In form trainer Wez Hunter thinks he had found the secret for rejuvenated galloper Smokin’ Joey as he heads off to Perth for the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught – Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 23.
Hunter paid $22,000 for Smokin’ Joey to be a late entry for the Railway Stakes and said the six year old will head off to Perth on Sunday under the care of his girlfriend Meredith Tuckett.
“At this stage Sunday he flys out. Meredith my girlfriend will go over and she will look after him. Yeah we are going,” Hunter told RSN Racing.
“We couldn’t have been happier with him the way he had come through his win and just the confidence the horse got out it winning a race against them. To do what he did in Saturday, we are very proud of him.”
Smokin’ Joey has always shown lots of potential while under the care of Lee Freedman, Anthony Freedman and Mick Price but with only four wins on the board before he arrived at Hunter’s Mornington stables, had failed to live up to his early expectations.
But since Hunter has taken over the training of the six year old, Smokin’ Joey scored a surprise win at $41 in the Group 3 $200,000 TAB.com.au Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Derby Day and was then beaten a head by Sydney sensation Boban in the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington seven days later last Saturday.
Hunter said he instructed Jason Benbow not to get cluttered up in amongst the field and give Smokin’ Joey plenty of galloping room and contributes this to the gelding’s new found form.
“It’s definitely the way to ride him,” Hunter told Racing Network.
“He was three deep with cover and just peeled out when he won on Cup day and last Saturday when they sat up there was nowhere for him to slot in.
“Jason followed instructions, I told him not to go in among them.
“When I first got him I looked at all his replays and all his poor runs were when he got caught up in the field. He’s so big that he lost his momentum and it takes him too long to get going again.
“It best to have him out and rolling.”
Jason Benbow would be the gelding’s rider again in the Railway Stakes.
Hunter said that Smokin’ Joey appreciated being keep fresh and really enjoyed his trips to beach which he will continue when he gets to Perth.
“The key ingredient has been the beach and we will be looking for that in Perth,” Hunter said.
From a low key trainer, Hunter has suddenly leaped into the spotlight with his feats over the last week at Flemington being highlighted beside those of Chris Waller and Gai Waterhouse.
As well as Smokin’ Joey winning a Group 3 race and running second at Group 1 level, Hunter was also able to saddle up a second winner over Melbourne Cup Carnival week at Flemington with Bel Thor wining over 2000m last Saturday.