23/11/2020 Autumn plans made for McEvoy pair
Grounded in Melbourne and unable to defend his Winterbottom Stakes crown could ultimately prove a blessing for four-time Group 1 winner Hey Doc.
“We really wanted to get him there, but it all got very hard," Calvin McEvoy, who trains the seven-year-old gelding with his father Tony, told racing.com.
“We thought if we keep him in work for those extra couple of weeks and don’t get a flight then it could impact him for the autumn, so we made the decision to spell him and it turned out to be the right call because there was no flights in the end.”
It’s a familiar tale for numerous stables who had wanted to send horses across for the Perth carnival, only to be left stranded by the WA Governments COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. And travelling the horses by road across the Nullarbor is ultimately not a feasible plan for equine welfare.
“I haven’t done the sums on how long it would take and how many days and how many stops, but I would say travelling by road to Perth by road would be like two races I reckon in terms of taking it out of him,” McEvoy said. “And he’s a good traveller.”
What missing the Winterbottom run has meant, is that the son of Duporth has headed to the paddock in peak condition ahead of another autumn campaign.
"It gives a trainer great confidence when you turn a horse out that is in form and sound because they go straight to the paddock feeling good.”
Hey Doc’s autumn campaign will likely kick off in the G1 Black Caviar Lightning over the unsuitable distance of 1000 metres, before tackling his ultimate targets of a G1 Newmarket Handicap and a G1 T.J. Smith. Both over his pet trip of 1200 metres. And he’ll be aimed at them with plenty of confidence from the stable.
“He’s a horse that has won a Group 1 at age three, four, six and seven so he is aging well, like a fine wine I reckon,” McEvoy said.
Stablemate Dollar for Dollar has also headed to the paddock with no concrete plans for his autumn campaign. Having pulled up lame following a last placing in The Everest, the gelding then developed a foot abscess upon his return to Melbourne, but neither issue is cause for lingering concern.
“He’d done such a tremendous job this preparation and, being an eight-year-old gelding, although he’s got a couple of seasons left in him, we just wanted to treat him with a bit of caution.”
“1400 metres is his optimum trip and there are some of those really good 1400-metre Group 1 contests early in the autumn, it’s just a matter of getting him fit enough to be ready for those races.”