Group 1 performer Hooked is expected to be very competitive stepping back up to 1400m in the Group 3 $150,000 Victoria Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday.
Hooked has had two runs for trainer Robert Smerdon for a first up second in the Group 3 $150,000 Rewards Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on March 4 followed by a tenth to Silent Sedition in the Group 1 $500,000 Keogh Homes William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 24.
Smerdon thinks that he has found Hooked’s happy medium stepping back up in distance along with a drop on class.
“Out to 1400m, back to Group 3, suites him better, a better profile race for him,” Smerdon told racing.com.
“He was in the Group 1 at Moonee Valley and he has come through that well.’
“He has had twenty-two days so it is a good gap for him. He is a horse who seems, looking at his history, to perform better off that sort of break than the back up.”
“Really good first up at Flemington, just got nailed over the 1400m. There was a lot of pressure up forward in the Group 1 last start.”
Smerdon is happy with the way that Hooked has come through his Moonee Valley run and took him to Cranbourne where he ran second in a 990m barrier trial on April 3 to keep him up to the mark.
“The horse in himself has coped with the racing and looks really good,” Smerdon said.
Hooked has drawn nicely at barrier two in the capacity Victoria Handicap field with Luke Nolen taking over the reins from Craig Williams and is sitting on the third line off betting at $7 at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Scott Brunton trained Tasmanian galloper Hellova Street has been installed the $4 favourite for the Victoria Handicap after wrapping up a hat trick of wins with his victory in the Listed $120,000 Goodwood Racecourse March Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on March 18.
On the second line of betting at $6 is the top weight Arod just head of the Darren Weir trained Articus who is $7 alongside of Hooked.