John Thompson insists the brevity of Hooked’s Queensland winter carnival campaign ensures there will be no doubt the sprinter-miler is at his best for the Doomben 10,000.
Hooked is one of the outsiders in the Group One sprint, but Thompson insists the five-year-old’s claims can’t be ignored just because he is first-up after a spell.
“I’ve set him for a two-race campaign – the 10,000 and the Stradbroke Handicap – so he is ready,” Thompson said.
Hooked returns to his racing roots, having won at Doomben as a two-year-old before a switch to Thompson’s Sydney stable at Randwick.
He has continued to race well during the past three seasons with wins in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle, the Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley and Tramway Stakes at Randwick.
The 10,000 will be Hooked’s first start since October when he failed in his only Melbourne spring carnival appearance.
“He has trialled three times and run second each time. He is a good fresh horse and won the Tramway first-up last campaign,” Thompson said.
Top jockey Jim Byrne will continue his association with Thompson on Hooked.
They have combined for many wins for Thompson’s Brisbane stable.
“Obviously no-one knows Brisbane racing better than Jim and he will suit Hooked,” Thompson said.
The 10,000 field has been reduced to nine runners with the scratching of Divine Centuri.
Divine Centuri was found to be lame on Friday morning.
It means for a second week in a row on Saturday there will be no Queensland-trained horse in a Brisbane Group One race.
Victorian mare Azkadellia held her place as favourite on Friday, but Delectation ($4.60), Fell Swoop ($5.50) and Dothraki ($6.50) have met with support.
Chasing a second-straight Group One win after claiming the Queen of the Turf Stakes at Randwick last month, Azkadellia is a warm $2.80 elect.
Mark Zahra will ride Azkadellia for the first time since he was beaten on her in a restricted race at Pakenham near the start of the mare’s spring campaign last year.