Sunday at the Sunshine Coast sees the postponed...
Merchant Navy remains the narrow favourite in the latest Newmarket Handicap 2018 odds for this Saturday’s sprint feature at Flemington Racecourse.
It is shaping up as an open edition of the Group 1 $1.25 million Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) with four of the 15 sprinters battling for top spot in betting.
Due to run as Flemington Race 6 at 3:15pm (AEDT) on Super Saturday, the Newmarket Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au currently have the three-year-old Merchant Navy as the easing $5 favourite out from $4.40.
The Aaron Purcell-trained Fastnet Rock colt drew favourably with barrier four and is undefeated at Flemington (2:2-0-0) as well as over the 1200m distance (3:3-0-0).
Merchant Navy is also proven at the track and distance, albeit against his own age, having won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) here in the spring.
Recent Newmarket Handicap history shows four three-year-old winners since 2008, most recently Brazen Beau (2015), and Merchant Navy is out to improve second-up after his close third first-up at Caulfield on February 10 in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m).
Occupying the second line of Newmarket Handicap betting this Melbourne Festival of Racing at $6.50 for the win is the widely-drawn Redkirk Warrior who has the outside barrier to overcome.
Gate 15 hasn’t produced a Newmarket Handicap winner since Placid Ark back in 1987, but there is still money for the Lindsay Park-trained Redkirk Warrior to break the drought on Saturday.
Regan Bayliss rides the Hong Kong expat, continuing his successful association with the Notnowcato seven-year-old.
Last start on February 17 Redkirk Warrior took his Flemington track record up to three wins from four starts with the late upset over Redzel in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m).
He now defends his Newmarket Handicap title having won the race first-up in 2017, the first resuming champion of the autumn classic in a century.
Redkirk Warrior however carries the 57.5kg top weight this weekend as he looks to add to an equally strong second-up record (5:3-0-0) at his pet track to become the first Lightning Stakes – Newmarket Handicap double winner since super mare Black Caviar (2011).
Rounding out the single-figure hopes at an equal $7.50 each are then Brave Smash and Rich Charm drawn in barriers two and five respectively.
Craig Williams sticks in the saddle of the Darren Weir-trained Japanese import Brave Smash who is dropping back in distance off a lead-up win in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Saturday marks the consistent five-year-old’s first look at the Flemington straight track and, if successful, he will be the first Newmarket winner to come off a Futurity run since Miss Pennymoney (2nd in 2000).
Rich Charm comes off the same race as Merchant Navy having run fourth in his Rubiton Stakes return in early February.
Prepared by the colourful Udyta Clarke at Cranbourne, the Danerich five-year-old has a strong record of three wins and a second from five Flemington starts including the Group 2 win at the track / distance on VRC Derby Day in the spring.
He is also a gun over the 1200m (10:6-2-1) and looks very well-weighted getting into the Newmarket Handicap with only 52.5kg.
Of the double-figure hopes the best fancied to score an upset include the smart fillies Booker ($10) and Catchy ($11) out to be the first of their kind to win since Alinghi (2005).
2018 Newmarket Handicap Betting
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