Smokin’ Joey could be surprise Stradbroke Handicap runner

By: Mark Mazzaglia
May 12th, 2014

Goodwood winner Smokin’ Joey could be a surprise runner in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 if connections decide to pay the late entry fee.

Smokin' Joey could be surprise Stradbroke Handicap runnner after winning the Goodwood.

Smokin' Joey could be surprise Stradbroke Handicap runnner after winning the Goodwood. Photo by Jenny Barnes.

Smokin’ Joey provided one of many upset results on the weekend when he arrived at $41 to overpower Platelet in Saturday’s Group 1 $500,000 The Tapestry Wines Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville.

Winning trainer Wez Hunter will savour his first Group 1 victory and discuss with the owners where they will head with the rejuvenated Smokin’ Joey.

“We will get him home, see how he is and decide if we go to Queensland,” Hunter said.

“It would not be the worst thing if he went to the paddock, but we’ll see how he is and see what the owners want to do.”

Hunter’s options would be to pay the Stradbroke Handicap  late nomination fee of $23,100 by May 28 or send the six year old to the paddock before preparing him for the Spring.

Hunter took over the training of Smokin’ Joey last Spring and got instant success with a win in the Group 3 $200,000 Stakes (1400m) at Flemington and then was  narrowly beaten when second to Boban in the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington the following week.

A trip to Perth then proved unsuccessful with a last of fifteen behind Luckygray in the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught – Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 23.

Smokin’ Joey had been struggling to find any form this preparation and was only placed once from four starts when third to Spacecraft in a 1400m Handicap at Flemington on April 5.

But Hunter said that everything fell into place on Saturday and Smokin’ Joey was able to produce his best to score an empathic win to deny Platelet back to back wins in the Goodwood.

“Horses like him need more luck than most,” Hunter said.

Ironically Smokin’ Joey’s winning rider Ben Melham scored on Platelet last year and was back in the Goodwood’s winner’s stall at his first day back riding after a six month layoff because of hip surgery.

“A lot of people were worried about me first day back after a long layoff and he (Wez Hunter) had the faith to put me on,” Melham told The Sunday Mail.

“All the credit goes to Wez, he’s good with these horses he gets off other people, he’s got a knack of getting them going and winning better races.”

“He’s a horse that gets back and you can’t ride him pretty, you’ve got to give him room so I pulled him to the outside and as soon as I got to the better ground he lengthened all the way to the line.”

Smokin’ Joey took his prizemoney earnings to over the $1 million mark by picking up a cheque for $321,020 for winning Adelaide’s glamour Group 1 sprint.

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