Breaking through for a maiden victory at the highest level of Australian racing over autumn, trainer Wez Hunter has revealed classy gelding Smokin’ Joey has been set for the same path he contested through the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, but revealed the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Perth on November 22nd may figure as a final point of call, pending results.
Failing to beat a single runner home in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at the beginning of his 2013 spring campaign, Smokin’ Joey quickly found his feet in winning the Group 3 TAB.com.au Stakes (1400m) and finishing a close second to Boban in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m); returning to the paddock after a less-than impressive performance in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) in Perth on November 23rd.
Confirming each proceeding event will again figure on the Encosta De Lago gelding’s radar this time, Hunter revealed he is pleased with the continually building form and work produced by the seven-year-old in the lead-up to his racing return, and is hopeful of a similarly memorable spring campaign.
“I am actually as happy as I have been, he looks good and I am happy with where he is at,” Hunter said.
“He has come on in the last two or three weeks since we jumped him out.
“He had a little one at home and then he went to Sandown and every time he has done something he is looking great on the other side of it.
“Fingers crossed he comes back as good.
“In the spring last year we got him after he ran first-up in the Gilgai and then he won on Derby Day for us and we backed him up in the Emirates.
“We are following that exact same path and hopefully he can do the same.
“I haven’t ruled out freshening him up after the Emirates and having a crack at the Winterbottom.”
Securing six wins and seven minor places from just 39 competitive starts so far, Smokin’ Joey appeared to be lacking top gear when beating just one runner home in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) first-up on February 22nd, and while again disappointing when failing to beat a runner home in the Listed Super Saturday Stakes (1400m) on March 8th, slowly began to work his way into form via third in the Macaulay Handicap (1400m) and sixth in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) before breaking through for his maiden Group 1 when displaying a superior turn of foot in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) on May 10th.
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