Trainer Robert Smerdon believes multiple Group winner Hooked is showing the right signs to run a bold race in his first start for the stable at Flemington.
Hooked won five of his 31 starts for trainer John Thompson including a Group Two Tramway Stakes, Group Two Crystal Mile and Group Three Cameron Handicap.
The six-year-old had one start for Wez Hunter last spring and resumes for the Smerdon stable in Saturday’s Group Three TAB Rewards Stakes (1400m) with Dwayne Dunn to ride where he is a $10 chance with UniBet.com.au.
“He’s had a couple of jump-outs at Caulfield and a barrier trial at Cranbourne so he’s had a solid build-up,” Smerdon said.
“He’s got talent. There’s no question about that and he seems to be going well.
“I haven’t seen him on a race-day circumstance so that’s going to be a new experience, although Cranbourne (trials) is a bit like that.”
Smerdon said they had initially felt Hooked might be effective at a shorter distance but after his fourth in a Cranbourne 800m trial on February 7 the stable decided to kick him off over 1400m.
“Dwayne’s feedback was to get him a bit fitter and stretch him out to his right trip which is the 1400 metres, so that’s what we’ve done,” Smerdon said.
Smerdon said plans for Hooked would depend on how he performs on Saturday and comes through the race.
“We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” he said.
“He’s got a few miles on the clock now but he has got the ability, as we know, and he still seems to have the desire.”
Hooked is still an entire and while he has won three times at Group level he has not won a Group One race but has been placed twice, running third in the 2014 Australian Derby and the Epsom Handicap.
“Obviously that’s the holy grail,” Smerdon said.
“But I think we’ve got to get him back in the winner’s stall before we think about going to the top end just yet.
“I’d expect him to go there and run super on Saturday.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au