One of Gai Waterhouse’s Doncaster Mile hopes Rain Drum is narrow favourite to win their lead-up race to the $3 million feature when they race in the 2014 Newcastle Newmarket Handicap in Sydney this afternoon.
Set to run as Newcastle Race 7 at 5:00pm (AEST), this year’s $125,000 Group 3 Enviropacific Newmarket Handicap (1400m) originally drew 15 final acceptors.
The field is now down to 14 runners following the early withdrawal of #15 Desert Wizard (11).
Newcastle Newmarket Handicap odds meanwhile are currently led by Fastnet Rock six-year-old Rain Drum ($4) who will be ridden by Blake Shinn from the extreme outside gate.
While they have a horror draw to overcome the bookies are taking no chances on the galloper second-up tipping improvement on their resuming run.
There they finished two and a half lengths away sixth to Appearance in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 22, the winner of that race going on to take out last weekend’s Group 1 Canterbury Stakes.
Rain Drum is a Group 2 winner at Rosehill from last September and currently pays $51 in the futures markets for their major autumn aim this time in, the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 12.
Following Rain Drum in the relatively open Newcastle Newmarket Handicap betting markets are then five other single figure chances with:
- #1 Pinwheel ($6) – Peter Snowden-trained veteran has been in top form this time in including a Futurity Stakes third at Caulfield, the rising nine-year-old comes off a fourth in the Liverpool City Cup and will enjoy the distance here
- #11 Almighty Charge ($6.50) – Waterhouse’s other hope, this Charge Forward four-year-old is up in class after some good form around Sydney in the lower Benchmark races, won two on the trot at Randwick earlier in the year and then came oh-so-close to making it three straight when going down a nose to Ecuador over the 1400m at Rosehill on March 1
- #4 Strawberry Boy ($7.50) – Former Waterhouse-trained Redoute’s Choice gelding now prepared by Peter Moody, hit-and-miss record of late but should have improved on their resuming seventh in the Group 3 TAB Rewards Stakes at Flemington at the start of the month, first run in Sydney since September 2012 though so need to handle this way of going again
- #7 Reparations ($9) – Anthony Freedman’s Exceed And Excel five-year-old has finished in the money at their last two runs when third in the Kilmore Cup last month and then second in a luckless run in Canberra’s National Sprint on March 9
- #12 Mecir ($9) – Lonhro five-year-old prepared by Team Hawkes caught the eye at Rosehill last time out earning this assignment which will be the lightly-raced gelding’s maiden black type start
Also in the mix at slightly longer odds are then the likes of Kris Lees’ import Slow Pace ($13) in their first Australian start and Moody’s other hope High Esteem ($15) who is after their first win since the Adelaide Guineas this time last year.
Head to Ladbrokes.com.au now to get behind your favourites for the Newcastle Newmarket Handicap this afternoon, making sure to also check out their generous futures markets on all the upcoming Group 1s in Sydney.