Trainer Wez Hunter revealed that Smokin Joey’ would be set for a tilt at the 2015 Emirates Stakes after he returned to winning form with a victory in the Eye Liner Stakes at Ipswich on Saturday.
Smokin’ Joey went into the Eye Liner Stakes as a well-backed favourite following his credible eight place finish in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben last Saturday and he kept out of trouble by jockey Damian Browne throughout the race.
Browne produced Smokin’ Joey at the right time and the Group 1 winner held off Daph ‘N’ Alf and a fast-finishing Ulmann, who had absolutely no luck in running, to record his second race win this preparation.
The acquisition of Smokin’ Joey during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival completely changed the training career of Hunter and he said that he plans to give the horse he considers his ‘best mate’ a short break before bringing him back for an Emirates Stakes campaign.
“I got him off Mick Price about three years ago,” Hunter said.
“He’d won about $350,000 and Mick suggested the owner retire him, but a friend of mine had suggested he give me a go with him and he’s won over a million bucks since then.
“There’s one horse with most trainers that changes everything and he’s definitely that for me.
“It’s nice to win another nice race and I haven’t been to Ipswich before, so that’s something too,.
“I thought his run in the Straddie was pretty good.
“He only finished two lengths off second and I think if he had an uninterrupted run like he had today he would have finished a lot closer, but then if he’d done that he might not have been here.”
Smokin’ Joey will be having his fourth straight start in the Emirates Stakes after finishing ninth in 2012, a close second behind Boban in 2013 and seventh behind Hucklebuck last year.
Peter Moody-trained Ulmann is another horse that will be sent to the spelling paddock ahead of a 2015 Spring Racing Carnival and he is arguably unlucky not to have finished his Queensland Winter Racing Carnival campaign with two victories.
Ulmann was only run down by subsequent Queensland Oaks winner Winx in the final stages of the Group 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) at Caloundra on June 13 and he had no luck whatsoever when third in the Eye Liner Stakes.