Courtesy of Ben Dorries, The Courier Mail
DOM Tourneur isn’t convinced last year’s Stradbroke Handicap favourite Hucklebuck handles clockwise racing but insists he deserves another crack if he runs well in Saturday’s Group 1 Goodwood in Adelaide.
Jockey Tourneur knows the boom sprinter like the back of his hand and says it was “a bad experience’’ when he over-raced in two Queensland runs last winter.
Hucklebuck came north with huge wraps but ran fourth in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic and then finished sixth in the Stradbroke.
The gelding returned in the spring and bridged the gap between potential and performance, being unbeaten in three starts which culminated in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes.
Hucklebuck will return in the Goodwood (1200m) on Saturday, with trainer Phillip Stokes appearing to then be leaning towards giving him an immediate spell before returning for the Melbourne spring.
Stokes doesn’t think his star galloper handled the Brisbane way of going, but Tourneur believes the jury is out.
And surely the vast riches of the $2 million Stradbroke on June 6 would surely be hard to resist for Hucklebuck’s owners.
“He over-raced in two tries in Brisbane last year which was a bad experience for him,’’ Tourneur told The Courier-Mail.
“Because of that experience, Phillip is very cautious about taking him to Queensland again.
“But there are some unanswered questions as we never really got a good guide on him in Brisbane. I’m not sure whether he really didn’t handle that way of going in the Stradbroke, or whether he didn’t like it being such a slowly run race last year.
“Logically, the Stradbroke would be the right race for him because the distance is ideal. But whether the connections want to go that way with him, or give him a spell for the spring, we will know after he races on Saturday.’’
Hucklebuck is rated a $15 Stradbroke chance in a market, which could change drastically after Saturday’s Adelaide Group 1.
The top five horses in UBET’s Goodwood market are all among Stradbroke nominations, including Lucky Hussler, who now heads betting at $8 for Queensland’s sprint feature.
Hucklebuck is sure to be well-fancied in the Goodwood and looks to have come back super with two trial wins in impressive fashion.
“He has had a flawless preparation and that is what you want to see coming into a Group 1,’’ Tourneur said.
“If he carries his spring form into the Goodwood, he will be very hard to beat.
“He has never tackled a Group 1 first-up so he will have to be at his best to win.
“But his class will carry him a long way.’’