They may be one of the double figure outsiders for the Newmarket Handicap 2013 at Flemington this Saturday but Lone Rock might just have what it takes to upset a field full of better fancied sprinters according to their trainer Robert Smerdon.
The now five-year-old Fastnet Rock mare has now won a race since the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) back in September of 2011, but Smerdon remains confident Lone Rock can return to her winning form this preparation.
A Group 1 winner of The Goodwood over the ill-fated Crystal Lily at Morphettville two years ago Lone Rock was competitive in a two elite level races this time last year and it is that form Smerdon is looking at.
After a failed run when beating home just one other runner to finish a distant 21st to the mighty Hay List in the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) last Melbourne Festival of Racing Lone Rock showed good improvement when fourth to Foxwedge in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley and fourth again to the flawless Black Caviar in the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) in Adelaide.
Her spring was disappointing however with Lone Rock returning this autumn on February 23 at Caulfield when eighth to Mrs Onassis in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
While on paper that run also looks disappointing she was only defeated 2.5 lengths and is still a chance to atone in the Newmarket on the weekend where Smerdon will be hoping for a better pace than in the Oakleigh.
“She needs good speed on early, to allow her to settle back and then finish her races off,” Smerdon explained.
“We thought that there would be a lot more speed than there was in the Oakleigh Plate but she hit the line ok.”
Smerdon was also happy with Lone Rock’s gallop at Flemington on Tuesday morning despite another less than suitable pace.
“I would have like them to go a bit quicker early but there was only three in it so they only went steady for the first half but she was good and it was a good opportunity to get her up the straight,” he said.
The current Newmarket Handicap odds are led by Peter Moody’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner Moment Of Change ($2.70) who is out to hand their trainer with his third Newmarket success in four years joining Wanted (2010) and Black Caviar (2011).
Other top fancies include the exciting Perth-trained duo of Barakey ($5.25) and Luckygray ($6.50), along with another raider in Brisbane visitor Better Than Ready ($6.50).
Further down the Newmarket Handicap betting markets punters can find Lone Rock at $31, a generous price according to Smerdon he believes they will relish jumping from gate five with just 53.5kg – Ben Melham aboard her for the first time.
“She should be able to get some cover from barrier five and if they get along in front she will be hitting the line strongly,” he said.
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