Phillip Stokes’ first Brisbane winter carnival experience ended in disappointment but leading Adelaide trainer believes the lessons learned a year ago will help him snare a Group One win this time around.
Stokes has only started one horse in a Brisbane carnival with stable star Hucklebuck missing the placings in a two-start campaign in the Fred Best Classic and Stradbroke Handicap.
On Saturday, Thermogenic will line up in the Queensland Derby (2200m) with Stokes confident all the boxes have been ticked ahead of the Classic at Doomben.
“Nothing went right for Hucklebuck last year,” Stokes said. “We learned from the experience.
“He didn’t really settle into the racing up there. He was pulling in his races and I don’t think he had long enough off from the autumn to Brisbane. He just didn’t come up.
“But this horse hasn’t missed a beat.”
Stokes said he also learned a bit about travelling a horse to Queensland, and Thermogenic was sent north by float from Melbourne last Wednesday and arrived on Friday morning after a stopover in Sydney for a day.
Thermogenic was being aimed at the South Australian Derby (2500m) but failed to gain a start as the third emergency.
He instead raced over 1600m on the same program, running home for third, before scoring a strong win over the same distance at Flemington last Saturday week.
To be ridden by Craig Williams, Thermogenic is at $17 but Stokes gives him a realistic winning chance.
“We made him work into the turn pretty quickly at Doomben on Tuesday and he seemed to handle it pretty well,” Stokes said.
“That was more what it was about. His fitness is there, it was more about getting him used to that way of going.
“I don’t think that holds any fears for us.”
New Zealand visitor Werther has strengthened his grip on favouritism with the scratching of Master Of Arts.
He has firmed from $2.80 to $2.30 with the Chris Waller-trained Sadler’s Lake ($7) and Upham ($8.50) from the Peter Moody stable the only other two runners under double figures.