No horse has won The Goodwood in back-to-back years since Musket Belle won the race in both 1911 and 1912, but Wez Hunter believes that Smokin’ Joey is on track to defend his title in the Group 1 event at Morphettville on May 16.
Smokin’ Joey started his autumn campaign with a credible fourth in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on January 24 and he returned to winning form in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14 before he was denied a second win at Group 1 level in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m).
The Encosta De Lago gelding came out of the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on March 14 with some mucus in his throat, but Hunter told RSN that the seven-year-old had freshened-up nicely coming out of the race and is on track to make the trip to Adelaide for The Goodwood.
“My mate is having a jump out this morning and then he is going to The Goodwood to try and go back-to-back,” Hunter said.
“After his last run in the Blamey he pulled up with a bit of a snotty nose, so we backed off him and he has freshened-up really well.
“Back from a mile to 1200 we haven’t done a lot with him heading into this trial and he will take a lot out of it.
“Last year he ran ok in the Victoria Handicap before he won the Goodwood, but I would save that his autumn has been a lot better this time around.”
Smokin’ Joey was sent to Brisbane for the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) following his The Goodwood win last year, but he was settled at the tail of the field and was never a winning chance due to the slow early tempo in the race.
Hunter said that he is keen to give Smokin’ Joey another chance in the Stradbroke Handicap at Doomben on June 6, but he admits that his star galloper will need plenty of early speed to be a genuine winning chance in the Group 1 event.
“He ran in the Straddie last year and they absolutely walked,” Hunter said.
“The leader won and we were last and had no hope, so I would like to go and have another crack.”
Mostyn (1894 and 1895) and Musket Belle (1911 and 1912) are the only horses in history to have won The Goodwood in back-to-back years.