Smokin’ Joey will have the chance to defend his title in the 2015 The Goodwood at Morphettville on Saturday and trainer Wez Hunter believes that the talented gelding is in better shape than he was 12 months ago.
Smokin’ Joey bounce back from an average autumn campaign to win the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at a big price last year, but he is taking significantly better form into the race this year after taking out the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14 and producing strong efforts in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at the same venue on February 28 and the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on March 14.
The Encosta De Lago gelding was found with a minor issue following the Blamey Stakes, but Hunter told RSN this morning that the veteran gelding had freshened up nicely and would head into the 2015 The Goodwood in outstanding condition.
“He is pretty good,” Hunter said.
“He has had a little freshen-up since his last run, which was over the mille and he had a little cold as a result of that run.
“I was a little disappointed with him, so I freshened him up, got him up to the mark and he is ready to go.
“His prep last year was ok leading into The Goodwood, he ran about midfield in the Victoria Handicap, but this time around he has won a Group 3 over a mile, he ran second in a Group 1 and he then ran fourth in the Blamey.
“That is much better form than last year.”
Smokin’ Joey has raced right around Australia during his racing career to date and he has contested races at Group level in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
Hunter said that Smokin’ Joey is an experienced traveler that loves to leave his own stable and he confirmed that the seven-year-old would make the trip to Adelaide on Thursday morning – the same pattern he followed when the won the race last year.
“Last year he went over on the Thursday night and he will do the same this week,” Hunter said.
“Perth and Queensland you are dictated to by the planes and that, but Adelaide is an easy trip and he is a professional at travelling, he loves it.
“He is probably ready for another trip away because he gets stale quick, so we keep it up to him and do different things with him.”
The 2015 The Goodwood field will be released later this morning and Smokin’ Joey will have the chance to become the first horse to win the race in back-to-back years since Musket Belle in 1912.