Hucklebuck will return to Melbourne racing in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday after starting his autumn campaign with a victory in Adelaide last weekend.
Hucklebuck was well-backed in the lead-up to the Dominant Handicap (1200m) at Morphettville on February 1 and justified the support of punters with a comfortable victory over Kushadasi and Crabbing; with the three-year-old showing impressive acceleration to hit the lead coming around the final turn.
Trainer Phillip Stokes was happy with the performance of Hucklebuck, who was forced to carry 59.5kg in the Dominant Handicap, and believes that the win has him primed for the CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington this weekend.
“I thought he was wonderful that day,” Stokes told AAP.
“We didn’t have him wound up and he hadn’t had a trial going into that so he’s taken a lot out of it fitness wise.
“He’ll be getting towards 90 per cent now and this next run will top him off nicely going towards the Guineas.”
Hucklebuck made his racing debut with a dominant four and a half lengths victory at Gawler in August of last year and worked his way through the grades impressively during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.
The Elvstroem gelding scored a strong win in the Listed Gothic Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on October 10 and finished an unlucky second behind Paximadia in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m); with Stokes confident that form is good enough for Hucklebuck to be competitive in not just the C.S. Hayes Stakes, but also the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1.
“He went all the way from winning a maiden at Gawler to winning a Listed race and finishing second in the Carbine Club in his first preparation so it was a pretty good effort,” Stokes said.
“My horse has been competitive through the Paximadia form and he deserves a chance.
“I don’t think he’s out of place.”
Hucklebuck ($10) is currently on the fifth line of the 2014 Australian Guineas betting market at Ladbrokes; with Gai Waterhouse-trained Bull Point ($6.50) a narrow favourite from 2013 Cox Plate winner Shamus Award ($8), Robbie Griffiths-trained The Quarterback ($8) and Orr Stakes runner-up Eurozone ($10).