The 2015 Newmarket Handicap will hold the smallest field in the race’s history on Saturday after just nine of the 22 nominated sprinters accepted for the race. Despite the small field size, there’s no denying the talent involved in this year’s edition.
Three of the world’s highest-rated sprinters will go head-to-head in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at 3:50pm (AEDT) at Flemington this Saturday – Lankan Rupee, Chautauqua, and Terravista.
The Team Hawkes-trained Chautauqua is a certified sprinter and the four-year-old gelding will enjoy a good jump from barrier three with Dwayne Dunn on Saturday. There are many factors that could work in his favour on Saturday: he’ll return to Flemington, run down the straight, and step back up to 1200 metres.
Chautauqua loves running down the straight at Flemington, finishing in the first two in all three of his starts over the track and distance of the 2015 Newmarket Handicap. He won the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) by an impressive four lengths back in October before finishing just a head behind Terravista in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) on November 8.
The gelding resumed in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on February 14, managing to overcome a tricky run and flash home with a win in the final moments.
Chautauqua will carry 55.5kg in the Newmarket Handicap, up to three kilos less than Terravista and Lankan Rupee, but has yet to win a Group One race like his rivals.
Mick Price’s Lankan Rupee will carry the topweight of 58.5kg and jump from the outside gate in Saturday’s race but that hasn’t stopped support from the punters coming fast and strong for the five-year-old gelding.
Lankan Rupee is already a five-time Group One winner and is also the defending champion of the Newmarket Handicap after thrashing a top field last year to win by two and a quarter lengths. Perhaps a repeat is on the cards?
The gelding was beaten by both Terravista and Chautauqua in the Darley Classic back in November but that was on the back of three tough runs at Moonee Valley, a track he’s known to dislike.
This time around, Lankan Rupee meets the pair on the back of a fantastic first-up win in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) on February 21.
Terravista isn’t even the third favourite in the 2015 Newmarket Handicap betting, that honour belongs to Brazen Beau ($4.80).
The Chris Waller-trained colt won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington in November and finished runner-up to Lankan Rupee in the Lightning Stakes.
Brazen Beau will jump from barrier five with international superstar jockey Joao Moreira.
Joseph Pride’s Terravista will enjoy the inside jump from barrier one with Hugh Bowman but the fact that he is running in the Newmarket Handicap first-up has punters shying away from the gelding. No runner has won the race first-up since 1917 and Terravista is paying odds of $5.50 to be the first to do it in 98 years.
Terravista has won four of his five starts over 1200 metres and is already a proven winner over both Lankan Rupee and Chautauqua in the same race conditions.
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