Trainer John Thompson is hopeful that tough colt Hooked can record his first race win in almost 12 months when he contests the 2014 Frank Packer Plate at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Hooked produced one of the best performances of his career to finish third behind Criterion and Tupac Amaru in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 12 and according to Thompson has recovered well from the tough staying performance.
“He has been doing well and he freshened up nice since the Derby,” Thompson told TVN.
“We haven’t had to do a great deal this morning, but he had a nice little gallop and it was nice and sharp.
“We won’t do too much with him for the rest of the week and he is in good shape.”
Apart from a lackluster performance in the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 1, Hooked has been ultra-competitive at the highest level of racing this preparation, finishing fifth in both the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 15 and the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) a fortnight later, but has not scored a race win since he started his racing career with two victories during the 2013 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
Thompson has been happy with the form of Hooked during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, but is desperate to see the Casino Prince colt record a breakthrough race win in the Frank Packer Plate this weekend.
“He hasn’t been far away; he has probably been a length away from the top horses the whole way through,” Thompson said.
“I would like to see him win first before anything, but he is going as good as he can go and we have done our job, it is up to him now.
“He seems pretty well spot-on.”
Hooked appeared to handle the wet tracks in both the Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby, but Thompson believes that the three-year-old could have won the Group 1 event last start if it had been run on a firm track and is hoping that he will be able to get his star galloper back on a firm surface this weekend.
“He is better on top of the ground,” Thompson said.
“You saw him in the Derby; he travelled up and if anything ran past the winner on the bit, but once he let him off the bit he just founded and lost all momentum.
“Back on a firmer track is to his liking.”
Hooked ($3.50) is currently on the second line of 2014 Frank Packer Plate betting markets; with talented filly Arabian Gold ($3.30) a narrow favourite for the Group 3 event.