Hooked has snapped a 19-month absence from the winner’s circle in the Victoria Handicap at Caulfield.
Trained for the majority of his career by John Thompson in Sydney, Hooked is now in the care of trainer Robert Smerdon at Caulfield.
And Saturday’s hard-fought victory over a gallant Charmed Harmony came at his third start for his new stable.
The six-year-old was sent out a $5 chance with Sportsbet and Smerdon said the race worked out perfectly with Hooked able to get a good trail.
Jockey Luke Nolen had Hooked in a position to strike from the top of the straight but Charmed Harmony ($21) made him work hard to get past him, fighting on before Hooked got the upper hand inside the final 50m.
Hooked got home by a short neck with 2-1/2 lengths back to Turbo Miss ($17) third.
It was fourth Group race victory for Hooked which has included two Group Two wins in the 2014 Crystal Mile and 2015 Tramway.
“With the speed and the pressure up front, Luke was in a great spot and then when he came out at the top of the straight I thought, ‘well if you don’t win, you’ve given him every possible chance’,” Smerdon said.
“The second horse gave a good kick. He’s a very brave horse from the front, Charmed Harmony. So it was a two-horse war and fortunately we had the softer run behind them and got the outcome, which was great.”