Stokes eyes another Cup with Amade

Phillip Stokes has produced quite the training performance when it comes to his handling of grand stayer Amade.

The 10-year-old European import has battled bowed tendons and a pelvic injury along the way, but this season, Stokes has him in career-best form, preparing him to win races like the Geelong and Sandown Cups and he now has his sights set on Saturday’s G2 Brisbane Cup at Eagle Farm.

The Pakenham-based trainer was quick though to deflect the credit for Amade’s success to his wife Ayumi.

“She’s the one that has to keep him happy up here,” Stokes said.

“He just basically lives out the front of our house out there in a paddock, we don’t box him at night, he just walks around. When you get these older horses and they’re racing like that for such a long period, it is satisfying.”

Stokes revealed that Amade has relished being trained from his farm, rather than from a box at his stables.

“He seems to love it up here,” the South Australian said.

“We’ve got our own swimming pool, tracks and stuff, I think just training him out of the paddock’s been the secret.”

Amade has become well known for missing the start in his races, yet Stokes explained that that’s just one example of the gelding’s quirky nature.

“He’s a lovely horse, he’s a kind horse but if he wants to do it, he’s happy but if he doesn’t, he won’t, as you can see with his barrier manners,” Stokes said.

“Sometimes, in his trackwork, if he doesn’t want to go another lap, he’ll just pull up and say, ‘That’ll do me’.”

As for those infamous barrier manners, Stokes accepts that it’s just part of Amade’s nature that he’ll concede his rivals a start in the early stages of the staying races that he contests.

“He’s always going to step slow, but it’s just dependent on how many lengths he’s going to be beaten by,” Stokes said.

“When you’re racing over 3200m, at least you’ve got a little while to make it up.”

Amade will be chasing consecutive wins on Saturday, after he recorded a comfortable victory in the Listed Sandown Cup last time out. Daniel Stackhouse will retain the ride on the ageless galloper, who’s drawn barrier seven for the two-mile test.

Sportsbet has Amade at $5 in its Brisbane Cup market.

“It’s the right sort of race for him,” Stokes said.

“He runs that trip no worries, he’s got no problems going the other way, he has to be in the mix. He couldn’t have been more impressive the other day in the Sandown Cup, I know he didn’t beat much but he beat them well, it was a good win.”

As for the future for Amade, who will turn 11 in August, Stokes said there weren’t any plans to retire him anytime soon.

“As long as he wants to do it and he’s racing well, we’ll press on,” he said.

The above is an excerpt from Edward Sadler’s article and can be read in full here.