South Australian trainer Phillip Stokes expects last Saturday’s beaten favourite Hucklebuck to improve dramatically when he lines in the Group 2 $350,000 Sky Racing Queensland Guineas (1400m) at Eagle Farm on May 31.
Hucklebuck was forced to set the pace in the Group 3 $125,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben when he was left in front and the three year old had a tendency to over race at his first run back since March 1 before finishing fourth to Havana.
“Hucklebuck continued to over-race in the middle stages and it was the reason he weakened over the final 100 metres,” his rider Dom Tourneur told stewards on Saturday.
Stokes was satisfied with the run and is looking forward to Hucklebuck stepping up to the 1600m of the Queensland Guineas.
“I always knew he’d be a bit vulnerable first-up over 1350 metres, and I told you that last week,” Stokes told Racing Network.
“He pulled up really well, had a real good blow after the race, now we’ll wait two weeks and go into the Guineas when he’ll be a fitter horse.”
“The horse is great and we’ll be right in two weeks.”
Hucklebuck is nominated for the Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 but would have to win the Queensland Guineas to be exempt from the ballot so he could gain a start $1.36m sprint.
“We’ll run in that race then assess where he’s at before we decide his next move,” Stokes said.
Hucklebuck was sent out the favourite for the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1 after winning his two previous starts at Morphettville and Flemington.
The Elvstroem gelding scored at his first run back last campaign over 1200m on his home track before heading to Flemington to win the Group 3 $150,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) on February 15.
But the three year old ran into some trouble at the 1200m mark in the Australian Guineas and was found to have mucus in his nostrils after finishing eighth to Shamus Award.
Even though Hucklebuck missed a place on Saturday and is not certain of gaining a start in the Stradbroke Handicap, he is still well up in the market order at $13.
The Tony Gollan trained Spirit Of Boom heads the betting with Ladbrokes.com.au at $6 just ahead of Rebel Dane at $6.50 and beaten BTC Cup favourite Buffering at $7.
The Chris Waller pair of Catkins and Red Tracer are the next two in the betting at $9 and $10 with the John O’Shea trained Knoydart at $12.