Even though Hucklebuck has raced over 1600m on two previous occasions, trainer Phillip Stokes still considers the Adelaide galloper to be trial at the ‘mile’ in the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Stokes took Hucklebuck to Melbourne during last year’s Spring Carnival as a three year old and ran second to Paximadia in the Group 3 $200,000 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
The leading Morphettville trainer then returned to Melbourne for the Autumn Carnival earlier this year when the Elvstroem gelding ran eighth to Shamus Award in the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
Stokes is not convinced one way or the other if Hucklebuck can handle the 1600m and is willing to give him one more go on Saturday to solve the problem.
“That’s why we have to give him another go I suppose,” Stokes told the Sportsman.”
“It’s still a bit inconclusive about a mile but with the barrier and The Cleaner putting on a bit of speed he gets his chance.”
While Hucklebuck hasn’t won over 1600m he has won twice over the 1400m Flemington course including a win in the Group 3 $200,000 Yellowglen Stakes on Derby Day last Saturday.
Stokes is happy with the way his stable star has come through the run and gave the go ahead to back him up this week in the Emirates Stakes after watching him go through his paces midweek.
“I watched him do some trackwork on Wednesday morning and he looks comfortable,” Stokes said.
“I only wanted to travel him once to Melbourne, in previous preps we’ve taken him over and brought him back but he hasn’t done well.”
Noted front runner The Cleaner with Steven Arnold aboard has drawn barrier six while Hucklebuck has drawn one to his inside and jockey Dom Tourneur is certain to get a handy trail behind the Tasmanian trained free runner.
Tourneur knows Hucklebuck extremely well and has been aboard him in ten of his twelve race starts, including last Saturday’s win in the Yellowglen Stakes.
Hucklebuck is one of six runners under double figure odds for the Emirates Stakes and is marked as an $8.50 chance with Ladbrokes.com.au.
The John O’Shea trained Contirbuter has firmed slightly to be the $5 favourite in a wide open betting race with last start Crystal Mile winner Hooked and the Darren Weir trained Lucky Hussler sharing the second line of betting at $7.
Damien Oliver’s mount Bull Point is also well in commission at $7.50 along with Team Hawkes’ Leebaz who has been backed in from $10 to $8.50.
The Cleaner is marked as a $13 chance dropping back to the 1600m after leading the Cox Plate field into the home turn before fading to finish three and a quarter lengths ninth behind the super Irish galloper Adelaide.