Leading South Australian trainer Phillip Stokes has revealed that Hucklebuck will be kept to light duties upon resuming in spring; culminating in an appearance in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington in November.
A Group 1 winner having taken out the 2014 edition of the Emirates Stakes (1600m, now Longines Mile), Hucklebuck has arguably been the stable star for Stokes throughout his entire racing career in posting eight wins and three minors through only eighteen competitive starts.
Confident the horse is at his best over sprint distances, Stokes told The Herald Sun he has no doubts the Elvstroem gelding will relish the conditions of the 2016 Darley Classic, despite having never been tested under straight track conditions.
“The Darley Classic will be a strong race, but although he hasn’t raced down the straight, I think it will suit him,” Stokes said.
“I think we were lucky to get a Group 1 with him over a mile.
“I think he’s better suited as a sprinter, especially after the setbacks he’s had.”
Hucklebuck immediately stamped himself as a horse to follow upon debuting for Stokes during the spring of 2013, but undoubtedly found career-best form to date in 2014.
Producing a number of smart performances as a three-year-old, highlighted by a win in the talent-rich Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m), Hucklebuck resumed in the spring for consecutive wins in the Listed Durbridge Stakes (1200m) and Group 3 Yellowglen Stakes (1400m) before his impressive triumph in the Emirates Stakes.
Missing most of the 2015 season through injury, Hucklebuck resumed this year with a smart performance for fourth in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) on January 23rd before running third in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) three weeks later.
Failing to handle the late going when eighth in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) a fortnight later, Hucklebuck has not been seen at the races since failing to beat a single runner home in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) on March 19th.
Hucklebuck has claimed more than $1.1 million in prize money through his impressive racing career so far.