Veteran hoop Jim Byrne will chase a fourth...
Tony McEvoy trained Sunlight is now a two-time Group 1 winner after claiming the $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The speedy three-year-old led from barrier to box in a jam-packed field of 22 headlined by several classy Group 1 winners. Sunlight, who won last year’s Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m), entered as a $13.00 chance with Ladbrokes, but once again proved doubters wrong by becoming the 16th three-year-old filly to win the time-honoured event.
As the line of horses descended down the middle of the straight, South African jockey Barend Vorster chose to set the pace at the front of the pack. Vorster replaced long-time jockey Jamie Kah for the first time on Saturday, and was able to dig in over the final furlong to hold off a late charge from favourite Osborne Bulls.
“She just gave me a beautiful ride. She bounced beautifully, she relaxed beautifully, I was biding my time, but she was waiting for me to push the button” Vorster said.
McEvoy was equally impressed by the ride, but once again credited Sunlight for becoming the first three-year-old since Alinghi in 2015 to claim Newmarket glory.
“She’s an incredible filly, she keeps stepping up to the plate, the further she gets into her prep the better she gets, how strong she was at the end of that 1200m there today.
“I know the three-year-old’s only get 50.5kg, but she is a three-year-old filly, and they were touting it to be one of the best fields, and she’s proven to be a star before today, and she confirmed it today” McEvoy said.
Sunlight was second-up on Saturday after finishing third behind Osborne Bulls and In Her Time in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington last month. McEvoy admits she was a little disappointing, but knows his horse has something special.
“She blew up a little in the Lightning, it’s an incredible thing with her with her speed and class, I haven’t been able to win first-up with her.
“She’s been an amazing ride, she’s been a pleasure to train and she’s just got what most haven’t.”
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