A huge field will thunder down the Flemington straight on Saturday afternoon.
Our Melbourne professional punter, Trevor Lawson, tries to find a winner in a very, very tough race; here’s his Group 1 Newmarket Handicap preview.
#1 Redkirk Warrior (Hayes & Dabernig / Luke Nolen)
Barrier 19, 58.5kg
Going for three Newmarkets on the bounce. Not going as well as previous years and didn’t have much luck last start at 1200m. Hard to see winning as an older horse with top weight.
#2 Santa Ana Lane (Anthony Freedman / Ben Melham)
Barrier 10, 58.5kg
Won the VRC Sprint Classic in spring at this track and distance. Generally improves off first run, so likely to need this run.
#3 Brave Smash (Kris Lees / Damien Oliver)
Barrier 23, 57kg
Terrific run last start with the blinkers back on over 1400m. Not much luck and should have finished closer. Did run second in this last year, narrowly beaten off an Orr Stakes run, and has had a similar prep this time.
#4 Osborne Bulls (James Cummings / Hugh Bowman)
Barrier 22, 56kg
Terrific run first-up in the Lightning, hitting the line hard with the best sectionals of the day. It was a peak ratings performance, but needs to go to another level here to justify the current price.
#5 Voodoo Lad (Maher & Eustace / Mark Zahra)
Barrier 5, 56kg
Won well down the straight in August last year. Ran second in this race two years back. Never likely first-up when got too far back in fast-run race.
#6 In Her Time (Kris Lees / Corey Brown)
Barrier 16, 55.5kg
Good run in spring at this track and distance behind Santa Ana Lane. Narrowly won the Lightning first-up. Consistently runs to her figure.
#8 Dothraki (Peter & Paul Snowden / Damian Lane)
Barrier 1, 54.5kg
Doesn’t win out of turn. Narrowly won at this track and distance in spring. Barrier 1 is a slight concern.
#9 Booker (Ellerton & Zahra / Dean Yendall)
Barrier 6, 53kg
Produced spike figure winning the Oakleigh Plate with a perfect run in a fast-run trace. Unlikely to reproduce that rating here.
#10 Whispering Brook (Simon A Miller / Jye McNeil)
Barrier 13, 52.5kg
Struggled to run the 1400m last start. Slight freshen-up and back in distance, and won first two runs this prep down the straight (albeit for a different trainer).
#11 Bons Away (Maher & Eustace / Linda Meech)
Barrier 4, 52kg
Good win first-up, then battled honestly last start. Hard to see running much better than that here.
#12 Champagne Cuddles (Bjorn Baker / Jamie Kah)
Barrier 18, 52kg
Ran down the straight in January, then won at Warwick Farm before failing last start. Blinkers go on here and can bounce back.
#13 Divine Quality (Robbie Griffiths / Beau Mertens)
Barrier 2, 52kg
Huge performance winning over slightly shorter trip in Spring. Battled honestly in Lightning. Hard to see improvement off that.
#14 Eduardo (Sarah Zschoke / Brian Park)
Barrier 21, 52kg
Improving galloper who has lifted rating at every start. Terrific effort in Oakleigh Plate after looking to get on the wrong leg on the turn. Can improve off that run.
#15 Glenall (Team Hawkes / Dean Holland)
Barrier 8, 52kg
Lacks the class for this.
#16 I’ll Have A Bit (John McArdle / Ben Thompson)
Barrier 11, 52kg
Lacks the class for this.
#17 Missrock (Robbie Laing / Stephen Baster)
Barrier 15, 52kg
Ran well last start but a very long time since last win. Not genuine enough for me.
#18 Usain Bowler (John Sadler / Patrick Moloney)
Barrier 14, 52kg
Produced a big spike rating at this track and distance before Christmas. Hard to see it repeating that here.
#19 Encryption (James Cummings / Rachel King)
Barrier 17, 51kg
Ran on terrifically in the Oakleigh Plate. That run was a spike figure, but has solid claims.
#20 Graff (Kris Lees / William Pike)
Barrier 20, 51kg
Ran well in the Lightning when never quite in the right spot. Drawn to get to the outside here, which looks advantageous. Can improve off the Lightning.
#21 Zousain (Chris Waller / Craig Williams)
Barrier 12, 51kg
Disappointing first-up. Missed the start and over-raced and never looked to run on. Ran terrifically at this track and distance in Spring in the Coolmore. Can improve rating.
#22 Sunlight (Tony McEvoy / Barend Vorster)
Barrier 9, 50.5kg
Won the Coolmore at this track and distance. Ran well first-up in Lightning and given jump-out since. Can run up to Lightning rating.
#23 Lean Mean Machine (Chris Waller / Michael Dee)
Barrier 3, 50kg
Looked to have every chance in Lightning when well held. Hard to see improving off that.
Very, very even race. On my figures Eduardo, Osborne Bulls and Sunlight lead the field, but I certainly don’t have them short. Osborne Bulls looks to be well under the odds, while the other two may represent a hint of value.
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