Emirates Stake winner Hucklebuck is a noted drifter in the betting for Saturday’s Group 2 $200,000 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
Hucklebuck will be having his first run since finishing a disappointing twelfth of seventeen in the Group 1 $500,000 Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May and has eased from $7.50 on Wednesday to be a $10 chance at Ladbrokes.com.au on Friday afternoon.
Leading Adelaide trainer Phillip Stokes agrees with the bookies and expects Hucklebuck to take a lot of fitness benefit from the run this weekend.
Even though Hucklebuck has a good first up record with three wins from five attempts, Stokes says that Saturday’s assignment will be tough for the five year old.
“His first-up runs have always been very good but they’ve been in Adelaide and this is Group 2 weight-for-age so it’s obviously much harder than anything he’s raced in previously first-up,” Stokes told racing.com.
“He’s had a couple of jumpouts going into his return but he’s nowhere near wound up and whatever you see on Saturday you’ll see plenty of improvement going into his next run.
“He’ll be somewhere in the second half of the field and I expect he’ll be finishing off well and if he runs somewhere in the first four or five I’ll be happy.”
Hucklebuck was found to have some bone chips in his knee following the Goodwood and had to undergo surgery, but Stokes is happy with the way he has recovered.
“He’s had some knee problems so he had to have a bit of minor surgery and he seems to be over that now and going well,” Stokes said.
“He’s returned in good order. He’s still a little way off his fighting weight but I’m very happy with the way he’s come through the issues that he had after the Goodwood.”
“He’s very lightly-raced and he’s got plenty of upside so as long as we can keep him sound he should have a lot more races in him.”
Top Adelaide jockey Dom Tourneur has been aboard Hucklebuck for twelve of his fourteen starts, including six of his eight wins, and will partner the five year old again on Saturday in the weight for age Australia Stakes.
Hucklebuck proved himself at the top level with a win in the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington during the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival and Stokes is keen to chase another Group 1 victory.
The leading Morphettville trainer has picked the two weight for age races at Caulfield, the Group 1 $500,000 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 13 and the Group 1 $500,000 Futurity Stakes (1400m) a fortnight later as two major targets for the Autumn with a trip to Sydney for ‘The Championships’ hinging on those results.
Australia Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.20 Rebel Dane, $6.50 Holler, $7 Durendal, $10 Mourinho, Hucklebuck, Rageese, $11 Trust In A Gust, Sirbible, $19 Churchill Dancer, $21 Richie’s Vibe, $34 It Is Written, $51 Written Up, $91 Kievann.