“I have given him a nice long preparation to come into this and clearly he will be vulnerable first up because he is such a big heavy horse, but if his condition holds out he will be really competitive.”
Hey Doc’s most recent race was in September last year when he pulled up lame in the near foreleg after finishing an uncharacteristic eighth in the Bobbie Lewis Quality down the Flemington straight.
He subsequently underwent surgery to remove a chip in a joint with McEvoy giving the dual group 1 winner time to recover before setting him to run late in the spring.
McEvoy originally planned for Hey Doc to make his race return in last week’s VRC Sprint, which Nature Strip dominated in an electrifying performance, but decided the horse was not quite ready to run in such a hot race.
The Kevin Heffernan Stakes will garner attention, with last year’s boom three-year-old Ringerdingding returning to contest the race first up, under new trainer Anthony Freedman, having won last year’s Sandown Guineas under banned trainer Darren Weir. ATC Derby winner Levendi is also running his first race since February.
McEvoy said if Hey Doc runs well he will consider pushing on to run him in the Winterbottom Stakes in Perth.
Meanwhile, the decision whether to take sprinting star Sunlight to run in the UK in the middle of next year will not be made until after she spends at least a month in the paddock, recuperating from her latest campaign.
McEvoy said the possibility was certainly being considered for the three-time group 1 winning mare, who finished a brave second behind Kolding in the $7.5 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill this month.
McEvoy said he will be guided by the horse, who will give him an indication of what is the best path.
“She will tell us…but what a good problem to have,” McEvoy said.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.