Phillip Stokes admits Snitzkraft exceeded his expectations in his first start back from an injury lay-off and the trainer believes the sprinter has improved leading into the Standish Handicap.
Five-year-old Snitzkraft won a 1200m open handicap on the Pakenham Cup program on December 7, his first start since a third in the Hareeba Stakes at Mornington in March before he was sidelined by injury.
“He strained his suspensory and had a few feet issues but we’ve got on top of all that now,” Stokes said.
“I thought his first-up win was probably a bit better than expected. I thought he would have been found wanting because he had been off for so long.
“He had trialled nicely going into it but it was still better than expected.”
The Pakenham win brought Wednesday’s Group Three Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington into focus and while Snitzkraft has three wins and two placings from six first-up attempts, he is yet to win in four starts second-up.
Stokes is mindful of that statistic and also believes the Standish shapes as a competitive race against progressive sprinters Bold Star and Halvorsen who occupy the top two lines of betting.
But the trainer also feels Snitzkraft has improved from his Pakenham run.
“I’m a lot happier with him going into this race than I was first-up, so that should put him in good stead,” Stokes said.
“His second-up record is not great but I just reckon he had a fair bit of improvement to come and he has got that now.
“It is a good race. But I’d say he is one of the chances.”
The Robbie Griffiths-trained Halvorsen, winner of his past two starts, both at Flemington, was the $2.50 favourite on Tuesday ahead of Adelaide visitor Bold Star at $3.20 with Snitzkraft next at $4.40 in the field of eight.