Jockey Craig Newitt has an ace association with Newmarket Handicap Day having enjoyed plenty of success on the Flemington meeting over the years, something he believes he can continue when he partners with Foreteller in the 2014 Australian Cup.
The now $1 million Group 1 Darley Australian Cup (2000m) has been a happy hunting ground for Newitt.
Back in 2007 he took out the Newmarket – Australian Cup double thanks to Miss Andretti and Pompeii Ruler’s winning performances respectively.
That was his second Australian Cup victory in as many years too as he also took it out in 2006 aboard Roman Arch.
There’s certainly something about the date too as he won successive editions of the Australian Guineas in 2008 and 2009 when the three-year-olds’ classic fell on Newmarket Day.
“I’ve always had a lot of luck on this weekend in the past – my birthday is always around this weekend,” Newitt, whose 29th birthday is on March 10, told AAP.
He’s confident that good fortune could keep up this year too thanks to a nice booking for the Australian Cup on the Chris Waller-trained Foreteller.
After their first win since the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) back in early September last year, seven-year-old Dansili import Foreteller has had two runs this time in.
Regular rider Newitt was aboard for both with a first-up fourth to Moment Of Change in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) and then a close fifth to Fiorente in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield in February.
Gai Waterhouse’s reigning Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente is the current $2 shortie in the pre-field Australian Cup odds.
Foreteller meanwhile trails only them and Cox Plate – Australian Guineas hero Shamus Award ($4.80) as the $8 third elect, a good price according to their jockey.
“I think he’ll run a great race,” Newitt said of Foreteller.
“He gets back to Flemington where I think he races best and he’s up to 2000 metres. I think he’s going as well as he was during the spring.”
Newitt also has an ace ride in the day’s other feature partnering with Samaready in the $1 million Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
The jockey is in a unique position to judge his chances of securing a third Newmarket Handicap trophy as he’s won Group 1 races on all three of the top fancies for the sprint showdown.
On Samaready he’s enjoyed a lovely association riding her for all 10 of the Mick Price-trained mare’s runs for six wins including the Group 1 Moir Stakes in the spring.
He also celebrated a Group 1 Oakleigh Plate success on the current Newmarket Handicap betting favourite Lankan Rupee last time out, and took out this race 12 months earlier aboard Shamexpress who returns for another go this autumn.
Of the three though it is four-year-old Samaready, last seen running a first-up third to Snitzerland in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m), who he rates the best chance of success on Saturday.
“I was always going to ride her. I’ve said all along I can’t put anything between her and the good mare I used to ride, Miss Andretti,” Newitt said.
“I think Samaready has got an unbelievable amount of ability and I still don’t think we’ve seen the very best of her.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t rate the rivals though.
“Lankan Rupee is going probably as good as anything in race at the moment, his form is unbelievable,” Newitt said.
“I think his toughest test on Saturday will be a tough-run 1200 metres but the way he’s going I wouldn’t put it past him.
“But I just think my mare ticks all the boxes. She’s going great, the 1200 metres suits and I think she’ll be very hard to beat.”
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