Phillip Stokes’ Sir John Monash Stakes winning...
Ace Victorian horseman Darren Weir has confirmed two runners in the Newmarket Handicap 2018 field this Super Saturday including one of the best in early betting Brave Smash.
Weir won the Australian Cup on this day last autumn with Humidor and has the favourite in that again on the weekend in Gailo Chop.
He is yet to prepare a winner of the Group 1 $1.25 million Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at the iconic Flemington meeting however, but hopes to change that on Saturday.
Weir will run two last start winners from his stable in the Newmarket Handicap field with four-year-old Ken’s Dream coming off a victory at the track and distance from February 17 and Japanese import Brave Smash making a big impact in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago.
“We’ve got Brave Smash and Ken’s Dream,” Weir told AAP.
The stable’s other nominee Hellbent ran an eye-catching third in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) but will be saved for a clash with the ‘Grey Flash’ Chautauqua in the Group 1 $500,000 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday March 23.
“Hellbent will just wait and run in the William Reid,” Weir said.
Brave Smash is the far better fancied of the confirmed Weir duo in the latest pre-field Newmarket Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, the flying Tosen Phantom entire at $6 for the win and trailing only Aaron Purcell’s Coolmore Stud Stakes winning three-year-old Merchant Navy ($4.60).
A five-year-old Australian Bloodstock-raced import, Brave Smash should present rock hard fit on Saturday having had three lead-up runs and a strong gallop on Monday morning.
Two back he finished a neck back third to Hartnell in the Group 1 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) before returning to the same course and distance on Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day to take out the Futurity Stakes at weight-for-age.
Yet to race at the iconic Flemington straight track, Brave Smash drops in distance for the Newmarket Handicap and is out to be the first winner to come off a Futurity Stakes lead-up since the filly Miss Pennymoney (2nd) back in 2000.
Ken’s Dream, who also reportedly worked well at home on Monday leading-up to his Group 1 test on Saturday, carried 58kg to victory last time out and will enjoy a notable drop to just 52kg on Saturday.
Despite the weight advantage, the four-year-old is only rated a $34 chance in futures Newmarket Handicap betting being untested in Group 1 company.
The official Newmarket Handicap 2018 final field is out on Tuesday morning making now the time tip back your early sprint favourites at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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