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Hucklebuck on target for Guineas
Mathew Toogood
14:09 AEST Mon Feb 10 2014

Classy three-year-old Hucklebuck has made significant improvement since his first-up win in Adelaide and is primed for his next step on the way to the Group One Australian Guineas.

Hucklebuck returns to Melbourne for Saturday's Group Three CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington which will be his lead-in to the Guineas two weeks later.

The gelding exceeded trainer Phillip Stokes' expectations with a strong win under 59.5kg over 1200m at Morphettville on February 1, making a quick move from last in the small field to hit the front and go on with the job.

"I thought he was wonderful that day," Stokes said.

"We didn't have him wound up and he hadn't had a trial going into that. So he's taken a lot out of it fitness wise.

"He'll be getting towards 90 per cent now and this next run will top him off nicely going towards the Guineas."

Kushadasi, second to Hucklebuck at Morphettville, is also among the 15 nominations for the CS Hayes.

Hucklebuck made an impression in Melbourne during the spring, finishing a luckless third in a Moonee Valley race behind Lion Of Belfort before winning the Listed Gothic Stakes at Caulfield.

He finished the campaign with a closing second to Paximadia in the Group Three Carbine Club Stakes and the winner confirmed the form by taking out the Group Two Sandown Guineas.

"He went all the way from winning a maiden at Gawler to winning a Listed race and finishing second in the Carbine Club in his first preparation. So it was a pretty good effort," Stokes said.

Stokes has kept a close eye on Hucklebuck's likely Guineas rivals in their returns to racing and believes they are an even bunch.

Hucklebuck is on the fifth line of Guineas betting at $11 with Manfred Stakes winner Bull Point favourite at $6 ahead of Shamus Award ($8).

"My horse has been competitive through the Paximadia form and he deserves a chance. I don't think he's out of place," Stokes said.

Victoria Derby winner Polanski was scratched from the Autumn Stakes on Saturday because of a skin infection and is nominated to resume in the CS Hayes.