Hunter Chases Second Group One Glory

3
Dec

Smokin Joey is out to salvage some eastern states pride when he tackles the Group 1 $500,000 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on Saturday.

The visiting interstate raiders took a major hit when favourites Angelic Light and The Cleaner were beaten in the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) and Railway Stakes (1600m) respectively on Super Saturday.

The Chris Waller-trained Moriarty, who steamed home with a devastating finish and Smokin Joey reclaimed some lost honour when they battled it out for third and fourth place respectively in the Railway Stakes.

Moriarty won the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick in October and was unplaced in both the Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) before heading west in search of his first Group 1 victory.

Nash Rawiller had been booked to retain the ride on Moriarty but was suspended in Hong Kong last week. Waller opted to stay with an international jockey in Douglas Whyte, a winner of 13 Hong Kong jockey titles.

Moriarty, drawn in barrier three, is the $4 Tabtouch Kingston Town favourite ahead of Disposition at $6.50. Paula Wagg’s Balmont Girl is quoted a $7 chance ahead of her Railway Stakes victor Elite Belle at $7.50.

Smokin’ Joey, a seven-year-old son of Encosta De Lago, can add a second Group 1 title to his racing resume after he took out The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville in May. The million dollar stakes earner is rated a $12 hope.

Smokin’ Joey’s Mornington-based trainer Wez Hunter said on TAB Radio that Smokin’ Joey had thrived since his Railway Stakes run.

“I couldn’t be happier with him and he had a good hit out on the Ascot grass on Tuesday,” said Hunter.

“He is definitely a horse that thrives in different environments and is ready to run a good race on Saturday.”

Smokin’ Joey, who has yet to win beyond 1400m, has drawn perfectly in barrier seven for Victorian jockey, Ben Melham.

“We might just ride him a bit colder this time after he pretty much got flushed out at about the 600m in the Railway,” said Melham.

“He was forced to make a pretty long run.

“We might be a little more conservative to make sure he runs out the 1800m.”

Ben Melham has a terrific riding record in the west and won last year’s WA Derby (2400m) aboard Mystic Prince.

He combined with Simon Miller’s Liberty’s Gem to win the Listed Placid Arc Stakes (1200m) two weeks ago.

RWWA: Julio Santarelli