South Australia’s leading jockey Dom Tourneur is on target to ride Hucklebuck at 51kgs in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Tourneur normally rides around the 54.5kgs mark but has been on a strict weight reduction program for a month to get down to the three year old’s lightweight and is confident that he will be reach his target by race time.
“I’ve done it over a month so I would get there steadily with a heavy exercise regime. I’ve only got a half kilogram to go,” Tourneur told the Herald Sun.
Hucklebuck will go into the Stradbroke Handicap with only one run under his belt but that won’t worry Tourneur who has been the three year old’s regular jockey since the Spring last year.
The Phillip Stokes trained gelding was sent out the $2.90 favourite for the Group 3 $125,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben on May 17 but after over racing in the early stages faded in the straight to finish fourth, one and half lengths from the winner Havana.
“1350m was always going to be a big ask fresh,’’ Tourneur said.
“He raced a bit keenly for the first 700m. He was beaten just over a length and was entitled to finish well back.”
Stokes has originally planned to run Hucklebuck in the Group 2 $350,000 Sky Racing Queensland Guineas (1400m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday but scratched, opting to go straight into the Stradbroke Handicap second up.
The leading Adelaide trainer is pleased with the way Hucklebuck has come through his Doomben run and expects a much fitter race horse to line up in the Stradbroke Handicap.
“I said first-up over 1350 that way of going that he was always going to be vulnerable and the moment got to him and he pulled a bit hard,” Stokes said.
“He was just found wanting later, but he has had a couple of gallops since and has trained on nicely.
“He is still on top of his game. I am happy with the way that the horse has done up there and hopefully he will give a good account on himself.”
Hucklebuck was highly regarded in the Autumn and was sent out the favourite for the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1 but after striking trouble at the 1200m finished eighth to Shamus Award.
The Stradbroke Handicap market order with Ladbrokes.com.au has Hucklebuck on the third line of betting at $7 behind Melbourne filly Srikandi at $4.60 and Rebel Dane at $6.50.
Others well up in the betting are the Chris Waller trainer Red Tracer at $8.50, Doomben 10000 winner Spirit Of Boom at $9 and Knoydart and Temple Of Boom both at $10.