23rd Group One Winner for Encosta de Lago

Talented sprinter miler Smokin’ Joey (6g Encosta de Lago x Dalzing, by Blazing Sword) sprouted wings from back in the field to score a surprise win in the Group I SAJC The Goodwood at Morphettville on Saturday giving champion sire Encosta de Lago his 23rd Group I winner.

Friendless with punters as he was when winning the Group III VRC TAB Stakes at Flemington back in the spring, Smokin’ Joey at last delivered on the big race potential he has always shown.

Transferred to Wez Hunter in October last year, Smokin’ Joey has continued to mix his form, but when he gets it right, he really gets it right!

Ridden quietly by Ben Melham, Smokin’ Joey dropped from the clouds to zoom past last year’s winner Platelet and win the 1200 metre sprint by half a length.

Wez Hunter was quick to praise Melham for a brilliant ride on a horse that is not always easy to get the best from.

“Benny gave him a super ride. I was a bit worried when he was that far back turning for him, but he timed it perfectly,” Hunter said.

Melham won the race last year on runner-up Platelet and said a strong gallop last Tuesday had him thinking he could do it again on Smokin’ Joey.

“He went enormous in the blinkers on Tuesday and I said to Wez he’d be hard to beat. I’m just glad he finished off like he did,” Melham said.

Retained to race by his breeders, Smokin’ Joey has won six races and placed seven times from 38 starts earning in excess of $1 million in prizemoney.

Smokin’ Joey is a full brother to multiple Group II winner Our Smokin Joe, who won 10 races and more than $1.6 million in prizemoney with multiple placings at Group I level.

He is one of five winners from the Blazing Sword mare Dalzing, who was retired from stud duty in 2009, Smokin’ Joey being her final foal.

Smokin’ Joey is another winner at the elite level for champion sire Encosta de Lago, who turns 21 this year and will cover at Coolmore Australia at a fee of $38,500.

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