Hooked is on top of the 2014 Emirates Stakes tips of Timeform’s Adam Blencowe and he believes that the John Thompson-trained entire should be favourite for the Group 1 event at Flemington this afternoon.
Hooked performed well without winning during his autumn preparation, highlighted by a third place finish behind Criterion in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), but he has returned to winning form during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
The Casino Prince entire recorded his first race win in over a year when he led from start to finish in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle on September 17 and finished third behind He’s Your Man and Royal Descent in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 4, despite being trapped wide throughout.
Hooked returned to winning form with another strong on-pace performance in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 and Blencowe told RSN that performance indicates that the four-year-old should be suited by the early pace expected in the 2014 Emirates Stakes this afternoon.
“I thought Hooked deserved to be favourite off the Moonee Valley win last time,” Blencowe said.
“He was strong up there on the speed when those around him dropped away and that could be important because we have The Cleaner engaged and he is probably going to run them right along.
“You wouldn’t think we are going to get a soft mile here and that is probably the query for a couple of the big dangers in Hucklebuck and Lucky Hussler.
“I would certainly lean the way of Hooked.”
Lucky Hussler is another horse that is taking winning form into the Emirates Stakes after taking out the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on October 18 in impressive fashion, but he will be stepping up to 1600 metres for the first time since he finished fifth in the Listed Tattersall’s Mile (1600m) at Doomben on July 13.
Blencowe believes that there is a question mark over the ability of Lucky Hussler to run a strong 1600 metres and he feels that the Husson gelding could be found out by the hot early pace that the Cleaner is likely to set in the early stages of the Emirates Stakes.
“Lucky Hussler ran outstanding figures last time with the blinkers on and if he repeats those then he is a genuine winning chance, but there is the lingering doubt about him at the mile and particularly if it is a really strongly run mile, which isn’t a query with Hooked who was obviously placed in a Derby as a three-year-old,” Blencowe said.
Contributer ($5) remains a narrow favourite in 2014 Emirates Stakes betting markets from Hooked ($7), Lucky Hussler ($7.50), Bull Point ($7.50), Leebaz ($8) and The Cleaner ($9).