The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained super sprinter Chautauqua is the clear favourite to take out the Newmarket Handicap 2016 this Saturday in Melbourne at Flemington Racecourse.
Boasting a gun record of four wins and three seconds from seven previous runs down Victoria’s famous straight track, Encosta De Lago five-year-old Chautauqua is one of 11 runners facing off in this year’s $1.25 million Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
The first of two elite level races headlining the ‘Super Saturday’ card, the Newmarket Handicap is set to run as Flemington Race 6 at 3:50pm (AEDT) one event before the $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m).
Suffering an early blow coming up with the outside alley (11) hasn’t stopped last year’s runner-up Chautauqua from dominating this season’s Newmarket Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Out to become the first winner from gate 11 since Miss Andretti (2007), the $3.88 million earner comes off a Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) win at the track from February 20.
The three weeks between runs is ideal and the Lightning Stakes has produced four of the past five Newmarket Handicap winners, a record Chautauqua pays $2.30 to continue on Saturday.
There are just two other runners under $10 in the Newmarket Handicap betting markets including the $4.20 second pick Japonisme prepared by Sydney’s best Chris Waller.
Waller won the race last year with three-year-old Brazen Beau (2015) and returns 12 months on with another gun youngster in Japonisme.
The Choisir gelding won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at the track and distance last October and returned for a brave third first-up when beaten only a neck in the Lightning Stakes.
The extra metres will suit on Saturday and Japonisme is drawn in gate eight with Craig Williams replacing Glyn Schofield in the saddle.
The last of the single-figure hopes is the fellow Waller-trained Delectation out in gate 10 with Damien Oliver booked for the ride.
Oliver is a three-time Newmarket Handicap winning jockey having been aboard Schillaci (1992), Toledo (2001) and Alinghi (2005) for their wins.
He shoots for a fourth on Waller’s smart Shamardal four-year-old who is second-up after a Lightning Stakes fifth, his first run since the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) victory over Chautauqua last November.
Waller has a total of three starters in this year’s Newmarket Handicap field, his trio rounded out by Counterattack in barrier three with Glen Boss in the saddle.
An early market mover backed in from $12 to 10, three-year-old Redoute’s Choice colt Counterattack was third to Japonisme in the Coolmore Stud Stakes back on Victoria Derby Day and was last seen running third again in easier class in Randwick’s Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) on February 6.
The other headliners in the mix at more generous odds include the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Bel Esprit three-year-old Keen Array ($15) who was runner-up in the Coolmore Stud Stakes, the now Darren Weir-trained Perth champion Black Heart Bart ($17) and Mick Price’s Not A Single Doubt filly Secret Agenda ($17).
The shock non-acceptor in this year’s Newmarket Handicap line-up meanwhile was the Joe Pride-trained Terravista who ran second in the Lighting Stakes first-up.
Terravista misses the rematch with Chautauqua due to injury, but stablemate Tiger Tees ($61) is a roughie’s hope from barrier seven for the stable on the back of a fourth to Our Boy Malachi in January’s Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) in Sydney.
Check out the full Newmarket Handicap 2016 field, barriers, jockeys, weights and current Fixed Win odds courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au below!