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Hey Doc has bounced through his return to racing and is on target for the G1 Winterbottom Stakes

Hey Doc has bounced through his Kevin Heffernan Stakes placing and is on target to head west for the Group One Winterbottom Stakes.

Co-trainer Tony McEvoy was thrilled with the dual Group One winner’s third in Saturday’s Group Three Kevin Heffernan (1300m) at Sandown, Hey Doc’s first start since September last year.

More importantly, the trainer said they were delighted with the way the gelding had come out of the race with a view to flying him to Perth for the Group One Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday week.

“We’re absolutely over the moon with him this morning,” McEvoy said.

“He almost ate all his dinner and trotted up beautiful and free. He had a real happiness in his eye this morning. He was very bright and very pleased with himself, which he should be.

“So unless anything changes in the next 24 hours he’ll go to Perth tomorrow night.”

Hey Doc had undergone arthroscopic surgery to his near fore fetlock since he last raced in the 2018 Bobbie Lewis Quality, and after a lengthy build-up to his return McEvoy was proud of the gelding’s performance at Sandown and said he still showed his class and appetite for racing.

The 2007 Australian Guineas and Manikato Stakes winner led Saturday’s race under jockey Luke Currie before being collared inside the final 100m, with Teleplay beating Home Of The Brave by a nose and Hey Doc another short neck away.

“He was incredible,” McEvoy said.

“He showed his class and it was just those two horses who were hard-fit that had been racing that got in him in the last 40 yards.

“I walked off the course feeling like he had won.”

Hey Doc was on the fourth line of betting at $9 on Sunday with TAB Fixed Odds for the weight-for-age Winterbottom Stakes, with Godolphin’s Everest placegetter and Stradbroke Handicap winner Trekking the $3 favourite.

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