A freshened up Hey Doc caused a huge boilover in winning a drama packed Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on Friday night.
The start of the race was delayed several minutes while the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained English had to undergo a veterinary check after becoming fractious in the starting gates.
The Encosta De Lago mare was cleared to run but the well fancied Chautauqua was declared unfit to take his place in the field after getting his leg caught up in the starting gates.
Winning rider Luke Currie had Hey Doc ($21) quickly out of the gates from barrier eight and was able to cross the field and take up in the running.
Currie controlled the race from the front on the Tony McEvoy trained Hey Doc and held on to record a head win over the Ben Smith trained In Her Time ($7.50) with the back marker Malaguerra ($21) running home from last to fill third spot.
The $2 favourite Vega Magic faded in the straight after travelling on the pace to finish fifth after suffering interference at the 900m when Hey Doc crossed when taking up the running.
The pre-race drama continued post-race when Corey Brown on runner up In Her Time fired in a protest on the grounds that the winner Hey Doc was the cause of her getting tightened at the 900m when Vega Magic was squeezed in onto her.
The Racing Victoria stewards were quick to dismiss the objection and the judge’s placings stood, but Currie was subsequently suspended for ten meetings for causing interference to Vega Magic and In Her Time.
Winning trainer Tony McEvoy was thrilled to see Hey Doc live up to his expectation after he had brought him back from a last start tenth to Humidor in the Group 1 $750,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 16.
“He began very well and Luke was caught out on a bit of a limb so he pressed on, trusted his horse and the result is fabulous,” McEvoy said.
“We thought he was a Group One horse but we were a bit confused by him in the mile race so we decided to come back to sprinting and it’s come off for us.”
“He had a great base fitness – I just had to get his mind right, I just had to freshen him, and that base fitness – we needed it tonight – and it was there.”
McEvoy said that he will keep Hey Doc to the sprinting races over the Spring Carnival and his next start will be in the Group 1 $1m Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 11.
“He’s now unbeaten here and he’s shown he’s also effective up the straight at Flemington, so we’ll press on to the Darley now.”