Having partnered the talented gelding to his maiden victory at the highest level of Australian racing in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) during autumn, jockey Ben Melham has revealed he is aiming to be more positive aboard Smokin’ Joey in Saturday’s featured Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot Racecourse.
Jumping from the gates well in the featured Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) last time out, Melham settled Smokin’ Joey towards the rear of the pack, and while displaying a typically strong turn of foot in the final straight, was unable to make up the distance on winner Hucklebuck, finishing seventh.
Unable to justify favouritism when running last in the 2013 edition of the Railway Stakes, Melham is confident the recent form and work displayed by the Encosta De Lago gelding points towards a competitive and successful tilt at Ascot on Saturday.
“If he brings his ‘A’ game he’ll be right in the finish,” Melham told TVN
“He’s a horse that needs room. I might try something different, be more positive on him.
“With The Cleaner there is obviously going to be genuine speed. I’ll just roll with the tempo.
“He’s running well in these better races, but he’s not earning any prize-money, so I might change things up.”
Claiming six wins and a further seven minor places from his 43 competitive appearances at the races so far, Smokin’ Joey began his racing career under the guidance of leading trainer Lee Freedman in 2010; passing through the stables of brother Anthony and Mick Price on his way to the care of current trainer Wez Hunter partway through the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.
Steadily building to the task over this year’s Autumn Carnival, Smokin’ Joey ran eleventh in the Listed Super Saturday Stakes (1400m) on March eighth and third in the Macaulay Handicap (1400m) on April 5th; placing sixth in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) in his only other start prior to The Goodwood.
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