Hey Doc muscles up for Group 1 challenge
TRAINER Tony McEvoy believes Hey Doc will be close to his optimum fitness when he contests the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.
McEvoy said Hey Doc was spot-on for $1 million race after watching Hey Doc's trackwork hit-out at Ascot on Tuesday.
Hey Doc has had a busy time in the past fortnight and McEvoy said the two-time Group 1 winner had thrived on it.
He returned to racing after 14 months with a close-up third in the Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) behind Teleplay at Sandown Hillside on November 16.
McEvoy said Hey Doc had lost 8kg since that run, which wass what he had hoped for.
"He's taken good natural improvement and he's starting to show a bit of rib," McEvoy said.
"He's 20kg over his Manikato weight when he won it but he's an older horse - I think he's pretty close - maybe five kilos off.
"Everything has worked in his favour. Even that kerfuffle getting over here with the flight delayed I think has helped bring him on. He's where I want him to be."
McEvoy was referring to the delay of the flight to Perth by a day due to a fuel leak on the chartered plane.
Hey Doc, whose last Group 1 win was the 2017 Manikato Stakes, worked on the course proper at Ascot and McEvoy said the sprinter had a bit of a look around the track.
"He was a bit of a tourist," McEvoy said.
"He was out wide on the course proper and he floated a bit. But he really enjoyed it. He pulled up beautifully and did enough. He's pretty seasoned now. He's enjoying being at Neville Parnham's with a beautiful big box."
McEvoy believes Hey Doc as a dual Group 1 winner was well placed in the Winterbottom Stakes.
"I've got a lot of respect for the Perth horses and playing at home is a big advantage but he's won twice at the elite level. That's going to take him a long way," he said.
The James Cummings-trained Trekking is $3 favourite with Ladbrokes. Flirtini is second favourites on $5.50 ahead of Vital Silver on $6.50 and Hey Doc at $8.