Hooked posted several impressive results over the 2014 Spring Carnival and is reportedly in excellent condition ahead of his racing return in Saturday’s Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Royal Randwick.
Securing a commendable record of four wins and a further two minor place finishes from his 21 competitive starts so far, Hooked has not been seen at the races since running on for a credible fifth despite an early check in the featured Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) on November 8th.
Having taken well to his time in the paddock and subsequent return to work, trainer John Thompson told Racing Ahead he is pleased with the condition of the Casino Prince entire and is confident of a competitive first-up performance in the 2015 Canterbury Stakes.
“We’ll have Hooked first-up in the Canterbury Stakes,” Thompson said.
“He’s going very well – he seemed to have come back better than last prep so year, very happy with him.”
Beginning his career with back-to-back victories in minor Queensland sprints leading into the 2013 edition of the Brisbane Winter Carnival, Hooked placed fourth in the Group 2 Champagne Classic (1200m) on May 11th; progressing to fifth in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m) before a luckless run for eighth in the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m).
Returning in spring for fourth in the Group 3 Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m), Hooked was again unlucky to finish outside the places in each of his next three starts and returned to the paddock following a strong performance for fourth in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) in early October.
Steadily building to the task last autumn, the stallion out of Absolute Lure finished fifth in each of the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) and Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m); running an impressive third behind fellow Canterbury Stakes nominee Criterion in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) before closing his campaign a disappointing fourth in the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m).
Having undoubtedly found career-best form to date over a spring preparation highlighted by wins in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) and Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m), and a third place finish in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), Hooked will undoubtedly have to find an extra gear if to overcome a Canterbury Stakes field likely to include Catkins, Cosmic Endeavour, Royal Descent and Sacred Falls.
The 2015 Canterbury Stakes final field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released on Wednesday.