Trainer Phillip Stokes believes that Hucklebuck has trained on strongly from his defeat in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben on May 17 and is confident that the talented gelding will produce an improved performance in the Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Hucklebuck returned to the races, after a stint in the spelling paddock, in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic and was taken to the lead by jockey Dom Tourneur in the early stages of the race, but tired in the final stages to finish fourth.
Stokes admitted in the lead-up to the Fred Best Classic that he believed Hucklebuck would be vulnerable in the race, but told Racing Ahead this morning that the son of Elvstroem had improved by several lengths heading into the Queensland Guineas this weekend.
“I said first-up over 1350 that way of going that he was always going to be vulnerable and the moment got to him and he pulled a bit hard,” Stokes said.
“He was just found wanting later, but he has had a couple of gallops since and has trained on nicely.
“He is still on top of his game and he worked fantastic on the course proper at Eagle Farm this morning.
“I am happy with the way that the horse has done up there and hopefully he will give a good account on himself.”
Hucklebuck remains in contention for the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 and was allocated a weight of 50.5 kilograms by Racing Queensland handicappers yesterday.
The three-year-old needs to win the Queensland Guineas on Saturday to be assured of a start in the Stradbroke Handicap, but Stokes revealed that Hucklebuck is no certainty to run in the race even if he is successful in the Group 2 event.
“That is a tough one, but we will just get Saturday out of the way first and I will have to talk to the owners and we will go from there,” Stokes said.
Hucklebuck will be chasing his second win at Group level in the Queensland Guineas, after taking out the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 15 during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing, and will be Stokes’ first winner in Queensland if he is successful on Saturday.