Trainer Tony McEvoy is excited as Hey Doc attempts to win another Group One sprint in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington.
Hey Doc contests Saturday’s 1000m dash in which he is up against three other Group One winners, including the new benchmark sprinter Redzel.
Other opponents include last year’s winner Terravista and Newmarket Handicap winner Redkirk Warrior but McEvoy is not shying away from the fight saying Hey Doc has had an ideal lead-up to the race.
Hey Doc won the Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington first-up in August before jumping in distance at his next two starts.
“He’s had a wonderful lead up and I’m really looking forward to the race,” McEvoy said.
“To be honest, I’m excited to be in the race.
“It’s the first time we’ve trained him as a sprinter and I’m really looking forward to seeing where he sits with Redzel now being the benchmark.
“The way he’s going I think he’s a genuine top-three chance but I’ve got a lot of respect for the field.
“However I wouldn’t go swapping my horse for anything else in the race.”
Hey Doc showed he’ was on target for Saturday’s race with a second placing behind Redkirk Warrior in an 800m jump-out up the straight at Flemington on February 2.
The gelding hugged the outside fence and could have finished closer to Redkirk Warrior if rider Luke Currie desired.
“To my eye Redkirk was getting a little shove and he had blinkers on and all Luke was doing was cooling his jets,” McEvoy said.
“Luke said he could’ve have beaten him at any time.”
McEvoy plans further Group One races for Hey Doc after Saturday’s race.
He has the Group One Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 10 and the William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in his sights.
McEvoy was considering a trip to Dubai with Hey Doc for the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on World Cup night, March 31, but has abandoned those plans.
“I nominated and I strongly considered it but I had to inoculate him,” McEvoy said.
“There’s a risk involved so I’ve decided against it.”