Hucklebuck held off a fast-finishing Lucky Hussler to record a maiden win at Group 1 level in the 2014 Emirates Stakes at Flemington this afternoon.
Hucklebuck received a lovely run into the race just off the pace, while The Cleaner set a very quick tempo in the early stages of the race, before jockey Dom Tourneur asked him for an extra effort at the 500 metre mark.
The Elvstroem gelding hit the front at the 400 metre and looked like he was a sitting duck when Lucky Hussler loomed on the outside, but the talented four-year-old held on to record the biggest win of his racing career to date.
Tourneur was clearly thrilled to record a second win at Group 1 level in the 2014 Emirates Stakes, after taking out the 2013 edition of the Australian Oaks with Maybe Discreet, and he was quick to pay credit to Hucklebuck as well as the training performance of Phillip Stokes.
“It is just a magnificent feeling,” Tourneur said after the race.
“He was friendless today in the betting and there were a lot of doubters about the trip and he was obviously backing up, but he has a lot more friends now.
“I was happy where I was, I was on the back of Leebaz and Hooked and I thought they were the two main chances, managed to track into the race very well under a hold and when I let him go he put paid to the race and was just too good.
“I just can’t thank him (Stokes) enough for his support and owner Thomas Lee.
“Phillip could match it anywhere in the world, he is the most professional trainer that you will ever see and he has done such a good job with everything that he gets.
“I can’t be thankful enough.”
Stokes was faced with a difficult decision after Hucklebuck took out the Group 3 Yellowglen Stakes (1400m) at Flemington last weekend and he was thrilled that his decision to back the Elvstroem gelding up in the Emirates Stakes had paid off
The gracious trainer was quick to pay credit to the rest of his staff and he was delighted to continue a winning day for South Australian horses after he previously won with Held Hostage, Mick Huxtable won with Lord Aspen and Tony McEvoy took out the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) with Le Roi.
“Dom gave him a good ride, he got there early, but he probably had to,” Stokes said.
“He dug deep and it is a great thrill.
“It is a credit to all my staff at home and I would also like to thank Peter Moody and all his staff who have been great for us through the week.
“It has been a great team effort.
“South Australian horses punch above their weight all the time and it is great for everyone.”
The Cleaner set a very quick tempo in the early stages of the Emirates Stakes and he looked a very tired horse at the 400 metre mark, but he was still able to hang on bravely and record his maiden Group 1 placing.