Hucklebuck is poised to be Phillip Stokes’ first Sydney Group One starter and the Adelaide trainer knows the gelding has a tough assignment.
The 2014 Group One Emirates Stakes winner Hucklebuck lines up in Saturday’s weight-for-age George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill.
It’s a headlined by Cox Plate winner Winx who is the $1.60 favourite to continue her unbeaten season.
“It’s a very tough race. If we get within three lengths of them I think the horse will be doing well,” Stokes said.
Four-time Group One winner Winx is aiming for her eighth-straight win and is obviously the one Stokes fears most in a star-studded field.
Hucklebuck resumed from 36 weeks off the scene with a pleasing fourth in the Australia Stakes.
Stokes felt Hucklebuck was back to his Emirates Stakes-winning best after his CF Orr Stakes third placing second-up from the widest barrier, then the gelding finished unplaced in the Futurity Stakes after leading.
“In the Futurity we had a bit of a plan and it just never panned out,” Stokes said.
“He never got cover and basically his sectionals said he was going too fast out in front.”
Hucklebuck has been in Sydney for a week and Stokes believes the horse will run a good race.
“I think going up there, just a different environment, he’ll switch off and if he produces his best form I don’t think he can win it but he’ll be thereabouts in the mix,” he said.
Stokes hasn’t had many runners in NSW with his most recent being during the 2009-10 season.
Hucklebuck’s performance is likely to decide whether he heads to the Doncaster Mile with 55kg.
“He’d have to be competitive in this to go to the Doncaster,” Stokes said.