Smokin’ Joey has impressed trainer Wez Hunter with a strong piece of work ahead of the 2014 Kingston Town Classic at Ascot on Saturday.
Smokin’ Joey hit the line strongly to finish a close fourth behind Elite Belle in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 22 and Hunter told Racing Ahead that he is thrilled with the way that the Encosta De Lago has pulled up from the $1 million race.
Hunter said that Smokin’ Joey worked home 1200 metres at the outside of the course proper at Ascot this morning and he revealed that he could not be happier with the seven-year-old heading into the 2014 Kingston Town Classic this weekend.
“He hasn’t left an oat since the race and I couldn’t be happier with him,” Hunter said.
“He just walked off the track and I was really happy with his work this morning.
“I am very, very happy.
“He went 1200 and ran home a strong 600.
“He did it in good style out wide on the grass here at Ascot and I couldn’t be happier.”
Smokin’ Joey will be stepping up in distance beyond a mile for the first time since he failed to fire in the 2010 edition of the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) and Hunter admits that there is a question mark over the ability of the gelding to run out the trip strongly.
While Smokin’ Joey is yet to record a race win over a distance greater than 1400 metres, Hunter was happy with the way that he hit the line in the Railway Stakes and believes that he will have every chance to run a strong 1800 metres in the Kingston Town Classic.
“It is a bit unknown,” Hunter said.
“He hasn’t won beyond 1400, but he put down a second to Boban who was flying in the spring and a good fourth here the other day.
“I am not convinced that he won’t rule it out, but it remains to be seen.
“It is hard to be confident in big races and it is weight-for-age, but I wouldn’t say that they are genuine weight-for-age horses and he gets his chance.
“If he is going to run out 1800 this is his chance.”
Smokin’ Joey will head to the spelling paddock after he runs in the Kingston Town Classic, but is set to return to racing for an autumn campaign that Hunter feels could include trips to Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide.
“We will pull up stumps after this and sit down and have a look at what we will look at in the autumn,” Hunter said.
“He is a really sound old horse that seems to be really enjoying his racing and I think that he thrives on the travelling.
“We will find a race for him somewhere.”
Smokin’ Joey has the chance to record his second win at Group 1 level after he took out The Goodwood (1200m) earlier this year.