Adelaide three year old Hucklebuck can prove that he is still on the rise when he lines up in the Group 3 $150,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Morphettville trainer Phillip Stokes said that the improving gelding has the ability and the maturity to take the next step and be competitive at Group 3 level and then continue on the rise onto Group 1 company.
In his first preparation, Stokes was able to win the Listed $120,000 Polytrack Gothic Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on October 19 and then ran second to Paximadia in the Group 3 $200,000 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 2.
Hucklebuck resumed from a Summer spell with a win over 1200m at Morphettville on February 1 and Stokes says that the Elvstroem three year old will be spot on for the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1.
“He had a good blow afterwards, he was only 80 percent fit and now he’s closer to 90, this run will top him off nicely (for the Australian Guineas),” Stokes told The Advertiser.
“He’s been to Flemington once before, he’s seen the straight.
Hucklebuck has drawn the inside barrier in the thirteen horse field of the C S Hayes Stakes and will be ridden again by Dom Tourneur who has been aboard in two of his four wins.
“Barrier one is perfect from the 1400m, we can take a position anywhere. It’ll be a good test,” Stokes said.
Stokes gave a good report after Hucklebuck’s first up Morphettville win and can’t fault him as he heads to Flemington on Saturday and a bold showing will boost his confidence for the bigger goals later in the Autumn Carnival.
“I’m very happy with him,” Stokes said.
“I know it’s a lot harder field but I’m a lot happier second-up than I was first-up,”
“He’s come on really well from his first-up race.
“This time around he’s a lot more seasoned and I’m hoping he can take the next step.”
“It just depends how well he goes, if he steps up and goes to the next level, we’ll look at those options. But at this stage I’m just taking it race by race.”
“He’ll run a super race, I’m confident he’ll run first three,”
“He’ll take benefit out of it again and hopefully we’ll be there again in two week’s time for the Group 1.”
Bookmakers have a high opinion of Hucklebuck and he has been installed the $3.60 favourite by Ladbrokes.com.au for the C S Hayes Stakes just ahead of the Robbie Griffiths trained The Quarterback ($4.50) who caught the eye with a dashing third to Bull Point in the Group 3 $135,000 John Moule Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 1.
Also prominent in the betting is the Tony Vasil trained Prince Harada at $6 and Victoria Derby winner Polanski at $7.50.