Leading Adelaide trainer Phillip Stokes expects Hucklebuck to gain a great deal of fitness benefit from his first Autumn Carnival outing in the Group 2 $200,000 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Hucklebuck will be having his first run since recovering from minor knee surgery following his out of character twelfth to Flamberge in the Group 1 $500,000 Darley Goodwood (1200m) at his home track at Morphettville on May 16 and Stokes said that he will definitely need the hit out.
“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 told AAP.
“He’s had a couple of jump-outs going into this but he’s still very big in condition and nowhere near his fighting weight.”
“He hasn’t raced since May. He’ll need the run and hopefully that will tighten him up for the Orr Stakes three weeks later.”
“We’re looking forward to having him back.”
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.
“We’ll get those (Melbourne races) over and done with and then see whether he goes to The Championships or not,” Stokes said.
“He’s a class horse and the form around him has obviously stood up.”
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.
Last year’s long priced winner Mourinho looks set to defend his Australia Stakes crown with runner up It Is Written and classy Sydney sprinter Rebel Dane also likely to be included in the field.