‘It’s ridiculous’: McEvoy stunned by Doc’s odds
TRAINER Tony McEvoy is amazed at the set that punters have taken against dual Group 1 winner Hey Doc ahead of the $1 million Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot following the gelding's confronting barrier draw.
Rated a $7 chance with Ladbrokes before landing in gate 14 - one from the outside - the Australian Guineas and Manikato Stakes winner has drifted to $14 with Ladbrokes.
McEvoy is mystified.
"It's ridiculous," he said.
"Since the barrier draw when he was $7 or $8, now he's drifted out to $26 or something like that. It's incredible.
"I had to just go and check that the horse was OK and that he hadn't lost a leg.
"The horse is very well, lovely and bright and I couldn't be happier."
Sidelined for more than a year because of injury, Hey Doc returned with a brave third to Teleplay in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) at Sandown on November 16.
McEvoy expects the six-year-old to improve sharply, albeit against hotter opposition in one of the best editions of the Winterbottom in recent seasons.
"He's showing a rib and he wasn't doing that at Sandown," McEvoy said.
"He's looking a lot better, very forward. The Heffernan has tightened him and he's been stimulated by coming over here to Perth. He's loving it, he's very happy."
McEvoy is confident Luke Currie can offset what shapes as a problematic draw.
"There's a 600m run before you have to turn. Luke Currie is a good enough jockey to sort that out," he said.
"I don't think the barrier is that significant and, in recent years, the winners have drawn in the middle to out. I'm not overly fazed after walking the track."
McEvoy's nephew Kerrin will ride race favourite Trekking ($2.50) for James Cummings and expects the Godolphin sprinter and several Perth-based runners to present serious obstacles.
"I do respect the locals, every time they come east they are very competitive," McEvoy said of the WA contenders.
"It's probably the strongest edition of the Winterbottom in a few years but Trekking has got the form. He won a Stradbroke, third in an Everest. It's very hard to go past that."
The Winterbottom is the second leg of the TABTouch Masters series, splitting last week's Railway Stakes and next Saturday's Kingston Town Classic.
WINTERBOTTOM STAKES (1200m)
Group 1, Ascot, Race 8, 7.50pm
Track: Good 4. Rail: 4m out. Weather: 30C.
THE BEST CHANCES
He's got outstanding form for this. At his last three starts, he's won at Group 2 level at Caulfield, then finished third in The Everest (a race in which Nature Strip finished fourth) and then second to Pierata in the Redzel Stakes. Should be good speed up front, which will suit him.
HEY DOC ($14)
Dual Group 1 winner returned from 14 months off with a cracking third at Sandown Hillside. Tony McEvoy has had his eyes on this race for sometime and despite his wide draw he's going to take beating.
VITAL SILVER ($8.50)
He has the advantage of his home deck. At his last start he finished second to Loving Gaby in the Manikato Stakes, where he covered a lot more ground than her. Before that he finished fourth to Sunlight over 1200m at Flemington. Three from three at this track and Ben Melham goes across to ride.
An obvious inclusion in the main chances as he's ridden by Willie Pike and he's owned by Bob Peters. Blocked for a run in the closing stages when sixth behind Flirtini. He's had one start this track and distance for a win.
Brilliant sprinter on his day and the Maher/Eustace combination have targeted this race. They also have the added bonus of Craig Williams riding him. Four starts ago he finished fifth in the Kingsford Smith Stakes a race where Trekking finished third just in front of him.
ENDLESS DRAMA ($20)
It's a long way from New Zealand to Ascot so expect trainer Tony Pike expects him to run well. He races well fresh and during the winter in Brisbane he finished third behind Trekking in the Stradbroke Handicap.
HOME OF THE BRAVE and VALOUR ROAD should set a good clip. DUBIOUS should get a good run on the speed. TREKKING will drift back and need some luck.
Eastern state-trained sprinters have dominated in recent years winning the past four editions. Also horses drawn out wider on the track have done well recently. Horses drawn in barrier eight have won three of the past six runnings with the other winners coming from barrier seven, 10 and 13.
"He has coped with the journey very well. He brings the best eastern states sprint form from the Everest and the Redzel and although he's back a little in distance I don't see that as an issue. I'd expect to see him back in the field and coming with a withering run."
HOME OF THE BRAVE (5)
"He's a natural on-pace runner who has the credentials to make his own luck. If it's proving difficult to make ground on Saturday, he'll be one of the soldiers up in the firing line."
"He's won at 1200m in good company in the Roman Consul as a three-year-old. He also put in a bold effort in the Stradbroke behind Trekking and then raced up to his best to win at Sandown last start. A strong pace suits a strong horse and that's how we see Viridine."
TREKKING the win and a saver on VITAL SILVER. Possibly the best bet in the race is Vital Silver to run a place.