Never, ever write off Smoken Up.
At 11 years of age, the marvellous son of Tinted Cloud boasts 70 wins from a 139-start harness racing career with stake money in excess of $3.5 million.
Trained at Melton by Lance Justice, whose now retired superstar Sokyola put him on the map after moving to Melbourne several years ago, Smoken Up has showed no signs of slowing down in recent months.
At Ballarat on Boxing Day, Smoken Up led all the way to defeat Mah Sish and Keayang Cullen in 1:53.1 before brave and narrow second-placed finishes in the Horsham Cup (behind Keayang Steamer), SA Cup (behind Caribbean Blaster) and Shepparton Gold Cup (behind The Gold Ace).
At Shepparton he was the lone 30m back marker from the stand start but was in front of half the field after just a few hundred metres.
While best known for his feats from behind the mobile, if he can bring his Shepparton form to the Hunter Cup Smoken Up will be up on the pace throughout after stepping away flawlessly.
Come Hunter Cup night, Smoken Up will be one of the favourites with punters, which is amazing in itself given the horse way back in 2008 ran second in the race behind champion Blacks A Fake.
All of his rivals from that era have long left the race track, but not Smoken Up.
And who knows? His form this time in has to have the old boy a serious contender on February 1.
Trainer: Lance Justice
Driver: Lance Justice
Biggest wins: SA Cup (four times), Len Smith Mile (four times), Victoria Cup, Miracle Mile (twice), Cordina Sprint.
Best traits: Lightning quick and ability to fight back once headed.
Can he win the Hunter Cup: Yes. Was beaten a head The Gold Ace off a 30m back mark at Shepparton from the stand-start. He’s racing in super form and with the right run in transit will take a lot of running down.
by Cody Winnell