Leading Adelaide trainer Phillip Stokes is confident that Hucklebuck will be at peak condition when he contests the Group 1 $500,000 italktravel Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Hucklebuck resumed from an injury enforced break for a first up fourth to Holler in the Group 2 $200,000 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on January 23 and then ran third to Suavito in the Group 1 $500,000 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 13.
Stokes said that the five year old has taken a huge amount of benefit from those two runs and will strip in peak condition for Saturday’s weight for age contest.
“He was out for a long time with the chips taken out of his knee,” Stokes told the Herald Sun.
“This was the race he’s been set for.”
Hucklebuck claimed his first Group 1 trophy with a win in the $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington during the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
The son of Elvstroem then ran first up in the 2015 Autumn in the Group 1 $500,000 Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville for a twelfth to the Peter Moody trained Flamberge.
It was subsequently found that Hucklebuck sustained several bone chips to the knees which required surgery, putting him out for the entire 2015 Spring Carnival.
But Stokes is happy with the outcome and expects Hucklebuck to excel in the Futurity Stakes.
“He’s returned in good order,” Stokes said.
“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.”
Hucklebuck has drawn barrier four in the eleven horse Futurity Stakes field and will be ridden again by regular rider Dom Tourneur.
In early betting for the Futirty Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au, Hucklebuck is on the third line of betting at $6.50 behind Kiwi galloper Turn Me Loose at $3 and C.F. Orr Stakes winner Suavito at $6.
The Murray Baker trained Turn Me Loose earned favouritism for the Futurity Stakes on the back of a first up fourth in the C.F. Orr Stakes which followed his win in the 2015 Group1 Emirates Stakes in the Spring.
Futurity Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3 Turn Me Loose, $6 Suavito, $6.50 Hucklebuck, $8.50 Politeness, Boban, $12 Stratum Star, $13 Trust In A Gust, $17 Rebel Dane, $18 Scissor Kick, $34 The United States, $41 Entirely Platinum.