A full field of 22 will fly down the Flemington Straight Six in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on Saturday.
In what is sure to be an incredible race, Osborne Bulls heads the betting but chances can be given to several of the sprinters in the line-up.
One of them is Redkirk Warrior, who is bidding for an unprecedented hat-trick of wins in race having won the last two editions.
We take a look at the Flemington feature and try to predict what might happen in the sprint.
1. REDKIRK WARRIOR ($27): Redkirk Warrior is trying to win three consecutive Newmarket Handicaps, having won the race in 2017 & 2018. The fact that he is now a $27 chance shows just how open this race is. He has raced well without luck this preparation and he is going better than his form suggests. The concern is, the Lindsay Park stable had set him for the All-Star Mile not the Newmarket this year. Is he sharp enough over 1200m? Almost 30/1 seems a fair price to find out.
2. SANTA ANA LANE ($10.10): A four-time Group One winner and a serious case can be made to say Santa Ana Lane is the best sprinter in the country. I thought his recent jumpout at Balnarring was fair at best behind the stablemate Shoals. He is better horse with a run under his belt and his grand final isn’t for another month, in the T.J. Smith up in Sydney. His recent first-up performances wouldn’t come close to winning this race but the stable has mentioned he is more forward this preparation and he obviously has the ability but I’m willing to take him on at the price.
4. OSBORNE BULLS ($4.01): The first 400m of the race is important for him, if the horses split down the straight then he is a winning chance… If they don’t and all horses go towards the outside fence then It’s going to be extremely tricky for Hugh Bowman to find a run. He had the flashing light run last start in the Lightning Stakes and people will be saying he was ‘unlucky not to win’ and will be improved over 1200m. I disagree, I thought he got the perfect setup there in the Lightning, as Sunlight went out quickly in the early stages but then slowed the speed right down, as they went 4.5 lengths slower than class benchmark to the 600m. This allowed Osborne Bulls to blend into the race without expending too much energy.
6. IN HER TIME ($11.10): It was a terrific ride from Group 1 Corey Brown last start in the Lightning Stakes, getting her in a perfect position from barrier one and that won her the race. She was terrific over 1200m down the straight in the VRC Sprint Classic over the Spring, running a close-up second behind Santa Ana Lane, running 15 lengths above benchmark. With fitness on her side, a repeat of that performance will see her right in the finish here. She is drawn in the right part of the track and maps to get an almost perfect run.
14. EDUARDO ($8.51): I’m happy to be with EDUARDO again. I was on him in the Oakleigh Plate and it was a huge run. He sat three-wide no cover on a hot speed set up by Nature Strip. He went 10.6 lengths quicker benchmark for the first 500m of the race and when the other speed horses in the race including Nature Strip were folding, he was still kicking out in front. The positive sign for me was, despite his tough run, he still ran 2.5 lengths faster than Group One average for his final 600m.. That’s the sign of a class horse. My small knock is, he is second-up, two weeks between runs off a gut buster so there is a chance he’s flat, but I think he will come through.
20. GRAFF ($9.01): The three-year-old Star Witness colt is still untapped. I loved his first-up run in the Lightning Stakes and thought it was as good, if not better than Osborne Bulls. Kris Lees mentioned 1000m was always going to be too sharp for him and that proved to be the case. I loved his work too and past the line, looking at the overhead footage he is charging through the line. I’ve spent the last 15 minutes trying to figure out of Tommy Berry to William Pike is a positive jockey change. On one hand you have the fact that he is an elite jockey who can ride at 51kg, on the other hand, he is a Perth jockey riding in a big Group One up the Flemington straight. Regardless of the jockey, Graff must be considered a leading chance.
22. SUNLIGHT ($11.10): She beat the boys (Zousain and Lean Mean Machine) in the Coolmore Stud Stakes in the Spring and an argument could be made that she almost should’ve won the Manikato Stakes against the likes of Brave Smash. I didn’t love the ride from Luke Currie first-up in the Lightning, although he was riding the horse for this race. He led and dropped anchor in front, I thought he should’ve rolled along and not let the likes of Osborne Bulls get so close in the run. I’m expecting improvement here but still think Graff has her covered.
4. Osborne Bulls