Sydney horseman John O’Shea is still considering paying final acceptances for progressive three-year-old Bernabeu in this weekend’s Newmarket Handicap 2014 after their winning hitout at the Flemington track on Tuesday morning.
The Fastnet Rock gelding was thrown into the deep end first-up on February 15 with connections opting to run them in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington.
It was a test the youngster failed with Bernabeu unable to beat home any of their rivals eventually crossing 12 lengths away 12th behind 2014 TJ Smith Stakes-bound Snitzerland in the classic.
Still O’Shea and co. haven’t given up hope and are considering running them at elite level at the same course again this Saturday in the $1 million Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
“It’s very unfortunate coming out of a negative like we had in the Lightning Stakes to try and come back and run well in a Newmarket, particularly a very strong version of the Newmarket,” O’Shea told AAP today.
“But there’s plenty of options for him. He’s a gelding so there’s a number of options to run down the straight in Group Ones later on in life.”
Their confidence the horse could bounce back were boosted this morning when they defeated two other Newmarket hopes Va Pensiero and Shamexpress without too much trouble.
Bernabeu ran the 800m in the jumpout in 47.41 seconds proving that on a dry track, rain falling within an hour of the Black Caviar, they can put in a better effort.
“We just needed to see him back in public and get a bit of confidence back for everyone, including the horse, and more importantly go into a race just having a nice steady trial without burning too much energy,” O’Shea said.
The up-and-comer currently sits 30th of 31 Newmarket Handicap nominees on the ballot having been allocated just 50kg in the handicap clash.
That’s a full eight kilos less than the Peter Moody-trained top-weight Moment Of Change who is after their third Group 1 trophy on the trot following their success in the CF Orr Stakes – Futurity Stakes double at Caulfield this time in.
Pre-post Newmarket Handicap odds are currently led by Lankan Rupee ($4) after their explosive Rubiton Stakes win first-up by four lengths and their Group 1 success in the Oakleigh Plate last time out.
Bernabeu meanwhile is also inside the top half of the Newmarket Handicap betting markets paying $26 to score an upset.
Those are odds that will sure to come in should O’Shea and the horse’s owners decide to go ahead with tomorrow’s final acceptances.
That decision will largely be based on how they pull up after this morning’s run.
If not the Newmarket, Plan B for Bernabeu on Saturday is the $120,000 Listed MSS Security Stakes (1100m), a three-year-olds’ race for which they’ve also been nominated.
To get behind Bernabeu at their current juicy Newmarket price, or check out the other pre-field markets, head over to Ladbrokes.com.au where your first bet can be on the house if you’re a new player!