A 14-horse field of ace sprinters has been released for one of the headline features of Flemington’s big Melbourne Festival of Racing meeting this Saturday – the Newmarket Handicap 2013.
Set to run as Flemington Race 6 at 3:15pm (AEST) this year’s edition of the $1 million Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) is shaping up as a fascinating clash with plenty of local and interstate talent to face off.
To wear the number one saddlecloth is one of two Perth raiders looking to become the first horse since Polycrates back in 1917 to win the Newmarket Handicap first-up with Gino Poletti’s last-start Kingston Town Classic winner Luckygray.
The talented Bradbury’s Luck five-year-old has suffered an early blow drawing the far outside barrier for their big first-up assignment, regular rider Shaun O’Donnell traveling over for the ride.
Poletti has been targeting Luckygray for the Newmarket all along and after a pleasing trail at the track on Tuesday morning the trainer’s confidence is high.
“In my own mind he can win this sort of race,” Poletti said.
“There’s no standout in the race, I think it’s pretty even. The way I see it about six or seven horses can win.”
One of those horses and the one presenting the biggest danger in Poletti’s mind is fellow WA star Barakey, the undefeated Key Business five-year-old prepared by Jim Taylor.
“He’s looked beaten a few times in races and has got good fighting qualities,” Poletti said of the last start Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes champ who has saluted in all 10 of their starts so far.
“He probably hasn’t been exposed to a lot of Group One racing yet. He might have to do that before he can win these sorts of races, I’m not quite sure.
“My bloke has tackled Group Ones and he’s pretty hardened now. But Barakey is a very good horse.”
Barakey, who was withdrawn from their original first-up assignment in the Oakleigh Plate after striking his head in the barriers, has also drawn awkwardly for Saturday with Jason Brown to ride them from gate 13 on 56kg, two kilos less than Luckygray’s 58kg top-weight.
WA sprinters have a nice record in the Newmarket Handicap with Luckygray and Barakey looking to join the likes of Heron Bridge (1984), Placid Ark (1987), Scenic Blast (2009) and of course the former Perth-trained Hay List (2012).
Following Luckygray in the Newmarket Handicap field and weights are then three horses on 56.5kg with the Peter Moody-trained Rupert Clarke Stakes winner Moment Of Change (barrier seven) coming off a brave first-up second to their star stablemate Black Caviar in the Lightning Stakes, Paul Messara’s international Group 1 winning mare Ortensia (barrier nine) out to improve on her disappointing 11th in the Oakleigh Plate first-up, and the Rob Heathcote-trained Group 1 winning Brisbane galloper Woorim (barrier four) who was dead last in the Oakleigh.
There are a number of other Queensland raiders joining Woorim in the Newmarket Handicap 2013 meanwhile including the Tony Gollan-trained Spirit Of Boom who will be ridden by Brett Prebble and Kelly Schweida’s flying three-year-old Better Than Ready.
Drawn in gate eight with Craig Williams to ride Better Than Ready is sure to occupy a spot high up the Newmarket Handicap odds with the More Than Ready colt having won five of their eight career starts to date.
They earned their spot in the Newmarket last time out on February 23 back home at Eagle Farm with a blistering three length victory in the Listed Falvelon Handicap (1200m) with Saturday to be their first time against Group company.
So which horse will join recent champs Black Caviar (2011) and Hay List (2012) in the Newmarket Handicap winners list after Saturday?
Check out the full list of hopefuls along with their barriers, weights and jockeys in the table below.
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2013 Newmarket Handicap Final Field & Barrier Draw
Flemington Race 6 – 3:15pm (AEST) – 09/03/2013
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||11140x121x||LUCKYGRAY||Gino Poletti||Shaun O’Donnell||14||58kg||111|
|2||3301x131x2||MOMENT OF CHANGE||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||7||56.5kg||108|
|3||x1x94110x0||ORTENSIA||Paul Messara||Dwayne Dunn||9||56.5kg||112|
|4||7x158070x0||WOORIM||Robert Heathcote||Damian Browne||4||56.5kg||108|
|5||11x11x111x||BARAKEY||Jim P Taylor||Jason Brown||13||56kg||107|
|6||6x243273x3||SPIRIT OF BOOM||Tony Gollan||Brett Prebble||6||55kg||105|
|7||5044x700x8||LONE ROCK||Robert Smerdon||Ben Melham||5||53.5kg||106|
|8||042x2417x3||AERONAUTICAL||Lionel Cohen||Darren Gauci||1||52.5kg||87|
|9||4125427935||BIG BUDDIE||Andrew Sawden||Anthony Darmanin||2||52.5kg||82|
|10||x12106x10x||FONTELINA||Anthony Cummings||Glen Boss||10||52.5kg||100|
|11||00x32280x4||SATIN SHOES||Clarry Conners||Tommy Berry||12||52.5kg||102|
|12||x99x8x2164||UNDENIABLY||Mark Kavanagh||Tim Clark||3||52.5kg||97|
|13||14x1311x21||BETTER THAN READY||Kelly Schweida||Craig Williams||8||50.5kg||97|
|14||25x3953x16||SHAMEXPRESS (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Craig Newitt||11||50.5kg||85|