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Group One-winning sprinter Smokin’ Joey will follow a similar program to 12 months ago when he lines up at Flemington on Saturday.

Just as he did a year ago, Smokin’ Joey kicks off his spring campaign in the Gilgai Stakes over the straight 1200-metre course.

After that the now seven-year-old returns for a 1400-metre race at Flemington on November 1 before backing-up in the Group One Emirates Stakes (1600m) on the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.

It’s the same path he followed last year although trainer Wez Hunter is hoping for a better performance from the gelding in the Gilgai.

Racing for Mick Price, Smokin’ Joey finished last in the Gilgai before transferring to Hunter’s stable where he won at Flemington on Victoria Derby day before running second in the Emirates.

“I think he’s wound up and ready to go,” Hunter said.

“My concern is that he normally takes a run and his form down the straight, although he hasn’t run for us, has been pretty poor.

“I’m sure he’ll run well but will improve out of it.

“All going well he’ll go Derby day to the race he won last year and then back up into the Emirates.”

A Group One winner of The Goodwood at Morphettville in May, Smokin’ Joey has been given a solid grounding for his return to racing.

“He’s had two trials, one jump-out at home and then he went to Sandown last week,” Hunter said.

“His trials have been good. I’m pretty happy with him.”

Smokin’ Joey was set to have an exhibition gallop between races at Mornington on Tuesday before bad weather rolled in, forcing stewards to abandon the meeting.

Instead, jockey Ben Melham gave him a hit-out at Mornington on Wednesday morning over 600m to top him off for his return.

 
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