Manikato winner returns - Hey Doc to make a race return at Sandown
After a lengthy build-up, dual Group One winner Hey Doc is ready for his return from injury at Sandown after being sidelined for more than a year.
Hey Doc has not started since finishing unplaced in the Group Two Bobbie Lewis Quality at Flemington in September last year.
He pulled up sore from the race and trainer Tony McEvoy said the gelding had since undergone surgery to remove a chip in a joint.
"He's a bit of an older horse now so we took our time with him but he has come back magnificent," McEvoy, who trains in partnership with his son Calvin, said.
"He has got confidence in his action.
"He's very happy to be back and I'm very happy to have him back."
Hey Doc is scheduled to resume in Saturday's Group Three weight-for-age Kevin Heffernan (1300m).
While multiple Group One winner Sunlight has emerged as a pin-up horse for the McEvoy stable, Hey Doc has also been a flag bearer for the operation in recent years with Group One wins in the 2017 Australian Guineas and Manikato Stakes.
"He's a star of the stable, isn't he? We love him. My whole team do," McEvoy said.
"Those horses, when you lose a horse like him it leaves a big hole in your stable.
"So it's just fantastic to have him back."
McEvoy took Hey Doc to Sandown on Tuesday, with race jockey Luke Currie riding the sprinter in a solo gallop.
McEvoy knows there is no substitute for race fitness which could make Hey Doc vulnerable first-up, but he is hopeful the gelding has done enough work to be competitive.
"It's been a long build-up for him and I hope it's enough," McEvoy said.
"We can't replace race fitness.
"He's had a couple of trials. He trialled at Tatura and he trialled at Flemington and he's had a trip away here to Sandown for a gallop."
Should the six-year-old perform strongly and pull up well, he could head to Perth for the Group One Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) later this month.
"But if he doesn't please me on Saturday, that will be aborted," McEvoy said.
McEvoy believes Hey Doc enjoyed his morning at Sandown.
"Luke was really pleased with him. He said he galloped beautifully and felt strong," he said.
"He's in good order."