Kensington Stakes Winner Could Have Crack at 2015 Newmarket Handicap

The Quarterback proved he was the star of the track at Flemington Racecourse on Saturday, winning the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) half a neck in front of Sumakaray.

Kensington Stakes winner The Quarterback (outside) has his sights on the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap in the autumn.

Kensington Stakes winner The Quarterback (outside) has his sights on the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap in the autumn. Photo by Adrienne Bicknell.

The four-year-old gelding was firm favourite to win his first stakes race, offering odds of $2.45 at Ladbrokes.com.au. Hoop Matthew Allen chose to settle at the back of the field with The Quarterback, waiting until inside the final 300 metres to set out after the leaders.

He arrived at the line just in time to beat $41 hopeful Sumakaray while Hard Stride ($5) was nearly two lengths behind in third.

“His turn of foot is that good you’ve got to ride him extra cool, almost like you are not going to get there,” Allen said after the race.

“If you go too early he’s going to run out of carrots the last bit.”

The Quarterback’s trainer Robbie Griffiths has some ambitious plans for the gelding following the win, including a start in the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 14.

Griffiths is keen to run The Quarterback at Flemington during the autumn considering it is the scene of his past two wins but admits the 2015 Newmarket Handicap may be too ambitious at this stage in his career.

The Listed WJ Adams Stakes (1000m) at Sandown Racecourse on January 26 is set to be the gelding’s next start before heading to the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) back at Flemington on February 21 before the Newmarket Handicap potentially.

“[After the WJ Adams] it would be four weeks to the Lightning and if he ran well enough in those two races we’d look at the Newmarket,” Griffiths told TVN.

“I’d like to have a crack at the Newmarket if he can keep taking the next step, but I have to be sensible — he may not be ready this year.”

The Quarterback has emerged as a sprint star after finishing end of the field in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) in March last year. Since then the gelding has been kept below 1400 metres and only finished outside the first three in two of his nine starts.

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