Newmarket Handicap

Flemington, VIC / 1200m / Race 6
Saturday, March 10 at 3:15pm

Newmarket Handicap:

STATISTICS

The Betting:

Knowledge & Insight

Whilst Better Beyond at 66/1 in 1979 (one of Bart Cummings’ record eight Newmarket winners) holds the honour of being the race’s longest priced winner, Black Caviar is the shortest priced Newmarket winner when scoring at $1.18 under 58kg in 2011.

Going on to complete an unprecedented twenty-five undefeated win record, this was Black Caviar’s tenth success and her third of 15 Group One wins. Just for good measure, she bolted in by three lengths and recorded the fastest ever Newmarket time.

The race favourite has landed the money eleven times in the past fifty years (22% strike rate). But, during that time has also missed a place on twenty-seven occasions.

It’s been profitable to seek out a value runner – 24 of the past 50 winners have started at $11 or longer with eight of those scoring at $21 or longer.

Form Focus Verdict

Currently quoted around the $5 (4/1) mark, 3YO Merchant Navy looks likely to become the nineteenth 3YO over the past 50 years to start Newmarket favourite. Worth noting that only seven won – Weekend Hussler, Alinghi, Exceed and Excel, Isca, General Nediym, Primacy & Placid Ark.

Taking a quick look at the favourite’s record over this 50-year timeframe:


Odds On = 4 starts (3-0-0)
$2 to $3.30 = 10 starts (1-4-1)
$3.40 to $4.40 = 18 starts (5-3-2)
$4.50 or longer = 16 starts (2-1-1)
Equal favourites at $4.50 or longer = 4 unplaced

Thirty-eight (76%) of the past 50 Newmarket winners have started at $5.50 (9/2) or longer with Isca (5/1) & Maybe Mahal (9/2) the two favourites to win when starting at $4.50 or longer.

BARRIER POSITIONS:

Knowledge & Insight

First run in 1874, this is the 145th running of what is Australia’s most prestigious thoroughbred sprint race.

Conducted down the famous Flemington straight and run over 1200m (6 furlongs), the Newmarket Handicap has regularly attracted huge fields with a field size in excess of 24 common-place throughout its history.

The 1925 edition boasts the greatest number of starters with 38, however the prize for the widest winning starting position belongs to the 1950 winner High Jip who came from the extreme outside gate of 30. Starting at 25/1, the Sydney-trained 3yo tracked basically solo down the outside rail to prevail in a bunched finish.

Barrier one hasn’t saluted since 1991 (Shaftesbury Avenue), and while inside gates have had an enjoyable time in recent years, one single-digit barrier/starting position has zero wins since 1956. Check this out on the Verdict on Friday.

Form Focus Verdict

With 15 runners on Saturday, it’s informative to study the winning gates where the field size has been comparable (13 to 16) over the past 50 years, working back from 2017 to 1968:

4-12-10-12-12-9-11-5-2-1-14-2-7-12

Nothing overly startling there, however it’s intriguing that not since 1956 has a Newmarket winner come from barrier 6, the Star Kingdom 3yo Kingster landing a rare double – a Cox Plate (1955) and a Newmarket (1956). A more than useful animal, Kingster also added a Stradbroke, a George Main and an All Aged to his CV as an older horse.

Hall of Fame members Heroic (1926) & Ajax (1938) remain the only two other horses to achieve this double (in the same calendar year), so Kingster stands alone as the only horse to win both races in the same season.

AGE AND SEX:

Knowledge & Insight

Recent trends have an even spread of age/sex winners, although over the past five decades males are superior with a 37-13 score-line over the females.

Of those 37 male winners, 13 came from the 3yo age group with another 12 being 4yos, so 50% of the winners over the past fifty years were males aged either three or four.

Ajax (1938) holds the 3yo weight carrying record with 9.0 (57kg), ahead of Baguette (8.12) and Weekend Hussler (56kg). In the fillies division, Waltzing Lily won with 8.9 (55kg) in 1933.

Black Caviar (2011) and Wakeful (1901) head the list of 4yo mares to win this race, whilst Malua is the best performed 4yo male to score, taking the 1884 edition (the Newmarket in that year conducted prior to the Oakleigh Plate, which he also won).

Probably Australia’s most versatile horse, Malua had a fair 1884, capturing the Adelaide Cup, then in the Spring both the Melbourne Cup and Melbourne (Mackinnon) Stakes. In 1886 he won the VRC Australian Cup, then tried his hand at the jumps, taking the 1888 Grand National Hurdle.

Form Focus Verdict

3yo Fillies have won just three times over the past three decades, (Isca, Miss Pennymoney and Alinghi), Booker & Catchy out to improve on that record in 2018. Of interest here is that fillies have only contested the race in 15 of the past 30 years with a total of just 19 fillies contesting the race.

Apart from the 3 winners mentioned above, fillies have also recorded two seconds and three thirds, so the stats support one or both of the fillies figuring prominently this year.

The Lightning and Oakleigh Plate failed to attract a solitary 3yo male (one of the sad effects of studs buying up colts), so Merchant Navy can add to already imposing record for his age/sex group in the Newmarket.

The WEIGHTS:

Knowledge & Insight

The Cummings-trained Shaftesbury Avenue with 58kg in 1991 became the highest weighted winner of the Newmarket since Gold Stakes carried 9.6 (60kg) in 1959. Twenty years would go by before a horse could win with more than 57kg, the invincible Black Caviar scoring with 58kg in 2011.

The following year and we saw Hay List shoulder 58.5kg and nose out Buffering in a classic edition of the race, the 6yo a four-time G1 runner-up to Black Caviar.

Despite modern-day Group race handicapping favouring those at the top-end of the weights, five of the past eight Newmarket’s have been won by horses carrying 52.5kg or less, including the past three.

The saying “weight will stop a train” certainly didn’t concern Bernborough in the 1946 Newmarket Handicap.

Carrying the metric equivalent of 63kg (9.13) on a limit weight of 41.5kg (6.7), the “Toowoomba Tornado” gave 27 opponents a huge start to clinch a last gasp half-head victory, the Sporting Globe’s correspondent suggesting Bernborough “was so far behind with two furlongs to go that it seemed impossible for him to win”.

Form Focus Verdict

With the two fillies Booker & Catchy set to carry the limit (50kg) in this year’s Newmarket, it’s worth noting that last year, Redkirk Warrior with 52.5kg was the first time a limit weighted horse had won since Rubitano (2002).

Up 5kg to 57.5kg on his winning weight of 52.5kg last year, Redkirk Warrior aims to join elite company by lumping in excess of 57kg to Newmarket success, while Merchant Navy looks nicely in as the Group 1 Coolmore Stud winner with 52kg. In 2015, Brazen Beau won the Newmarket with 52kg after also taking the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes in the Spring.

Newmarket Handicap:

FORM PROFILE

LEAD UP FORM:

Knowledge & Insight

A total of 45 Lightning Stakes winners have contested the Newmarket since the Lightning was first run in 1955, for 13 winners and 13 minor-place-getters – a more than respectable strike-rate.

This year’s Lightning winner Redkirk Warrior became the second horse aged over six to win the Lightning, joining Terravista (2017) and achieving what Manikato was unable to do – win the Lightning as a 7yo, Manikato runner-up to stablemate Demus in 1983.

Redkirk Warrior and Chautauqua will be pleased to know that three 7yos have won the Newmarket, (Toledo in 2001, the most recent), while Mairp in 1904, holds the trophy as the oldest winner at nine.

A more thorough dissection of this year’s key lead-ups, the patterns and historical trends will be provided in Friday’s Form Focus Verdict.

Form Focus Verdict

Trying to dissect the primary Newmarket lead-ups, it may be best to compare the interaction between the Lightning Stakes and Oakleigh Plate form over time.

Over the past 30 years, we have had two occasions when the one horse has won both lead-ups – Schillaci (1992) completing the big treble (emulating Placid Ark), while Fastnet Rock was runner-up to *Alinghi (2005.

On a further eleven occasions we have had the Lightning and Oakleigh Plate winners meet in the Newmarket.

The results of this sample are quite interesting with the Lightning Stakes winner finishing in front of the Oakleigh Plate winner in nine of those eleven duels, (six of the Lightning winners taking the Newmarket), clearly suggesting that the Lightning is a stronger form reference.

It still remains noteworthy however that since the Lightning was first run in 1955, a total of twenty-one Newmarket winners ran in neither the Lightning nor the Oakleigh Plate.

It’s rare for a Futurity winner to back up in the Newmarket (only five in the past 3 decades), and one then finds that the last horse to complete the Futurity-Newmarket double is Bernborough in 1946. This does cast some shadows over Brave Smash.

JOCKEY:

Knowledge & Insight

No rider in the race’s 144-year history has notched a “four-timer”, a total of five jockeys sharing the honour of three Newmarket victories.

Of the current batch, Craig Newitt (wins on Miss Andretti, Shamexpress, The Quarterback) and Damien Oliver (Schillaci, Toledo, Alinghi) are in a position to become the “winningest” jockey.

Harry White, Athol Mulley & Harold Badger are the other riders with a trio of Newmarkets, while this year both Luke Nolen and Stephen Baster have the opportunity to ride their third Newmarket winner.

The straight six at Flemington is a tricky course to ride, plotting the right route and timing are critical factors, so Friday’s verdict will attempt to pinpoint which riders to focus on in Saturday’s race.

Form Focus Verdict

Whilst Regan Bayliss & Chad Schofield are previous Newmarket winners, the rider with the best record of the current crop of jockeys is:

Craig Newitt (13 rides) 3-1-2; he has 10 top six finishes in his 13 rides

Not so exciting a record belongs to:
Craig Williams (14 rides) 0-0-1; Craig is yet to win a G1 down the Flemington straight

Ten jockeys have collected the Newmarket-Australian Cup double in the same year:

Craig Newitt (2007), Greg Childs (1999), Shane Dye (1997), Mick Dittman (1993), Pat Hyland (1964), Billy Smith (1962), Jim Mahoney (1920), Charlie Cooper (1911), James Hayes (1893) Tom Hales (1888).

TRAINER:

Knowledge & Insight

The Newmarket is yet another Group One at Flemington that belongs to Bart Cummings, the master trainer registering eight victories; Crown (1972), Century (1973), Cap d’Antibes (1975), Maybe Mahal (1978), Better Beyond (1979), Elounda Bay (1981), Gold Trump (1990) and Shaftesbury Avenue (1991).

Colin Hayes with four wins comes second in overall standings, his sons Peter and David notching one win each with Isca (1999) and Primacy (1993) respectively.

The Newmarket-Australian Cup double ranks as one of the more difficult assignments for a stable to capture, Form Focus Verdict will examine how many times the one stable has collected both races in the same year.

Form Focus Verdict

It’s another measure of the greatness of Bart Cummings that not only did he prepare 8 winners of the Newmarket, but that he also boasts a total of 13 Australian Cup winners.

On four occasions Cummings landed the Newmarket-Australian Cup double – 1973, 1975, 1978 and 1981.

Just five other trainers have matched this feat with Randwick-based Tom Payten first out of the blocks in 1888, then John Allsop in 1905 and Charles Wheeler in 1911.

It took another 62 years before Cummings claimed the first of his fourtrella, then Peter Hayes in 1999 took the double for Lindsay Park with Isca (Newmarket) and Istidaad (Cup). In 2005, *Lee Freedman* won the Newmarket with Alinghi and the Australian Cup with Makybe Diva.

With 5 runners, the Lindsay Park operation has loaded up to add to its total of seven Newmarket victories while the Darren Weir yard, runner-up in the past two Newmarkets, has two runners engaged.

HORSE:

Knowledge & Insight

Back-to-back victories in any Group One is a notable achievement and the Newmarket is no exception, Redkirk Warrior out to become the fifth horse to record a consecutive win in this race.

The mare Aspen (1880/1881) was the first, (both times resuming from a spell), while in 1927 and 1928, the imported stallion Gothic scored, his second success under 9.10 (61.5kg) with Jim Pike in the saddle.

Trainer George Hanlon prepared Correct to win the 1960 and 1961 editions, then Razor Sharp went back-to-back in 1982-1983, both times with Dale Short aboard.

Since 1983, a further eight Newmarket winners have returned for a return tilt – check back on Friday to find out their respective results.

Form Focus Verdict

It’s not looking that promising for the imported Redkirk Warrior on the successive win challenge – since Razor Sharp went back-to-back in 1982/83, eight Newmarket winners have returned the following year and all wound up unplaced; Heron Bridge, Primacy, All Our Mob, Miss Pennymoney, Toledo, Rubitano, Shamexpress, & The Quarterback.

While this may be depressing news for the Warrior, the horse showed in the Lightning that he’s in top order and one must remember that he became the first horse in a century to score first-up in the Newmarket when he beat Voodoo Lad (also first-up) last year.

newmarket handicap:

TOP THREE

Form Focus Verdict

It’s been thirteen years since a filly claimed the Newmarket, Lee Freedman’s outstanding Alinghi overpowering the Lightning-Oakleigh Plate winner Fastnet Rock.

A daughter of Fastnet Rock, Catchy shares more than one common thread with Alinghi – both fillies won the Blue Diamond at two, then returned in the Spring and won at Flemington over the straight 1200m.

Alinghi won the 2004 Ascot Vale Stakes (then run in September at G2 level), the race now known as the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes and conducted on Derby Day.

Last Spring, Catchy won the Danehill Stakes (G2) down the straight, this race swapping dates with the Coolmore Stud Stakes in 2006. Important to note that Black Caviar also won the Danehill as a 3yo filly.

Coming from fifteenth at the 400m in the Oakleigh Plate, Catchy made up good ground on a day when backmarkers didn’t enjoy a great time – notably, she was never placed under severe pressure over the last 200m.

It was hard not to be impressed by Booker in the same race, the filly covering plenty of extra ground and hitting the line superbly. This filly by Written Tycoon boasts a great record at 1200m and was beaten less than a length by Catch when third in the aforementioned Danehill last September.

Rich Charm doesn’t know how to run a poor race; in 18 starts, he’s yet to finish worse than fourth and is a proven straight track performer. Luckless first-up in the Rubiton, Rich Charm would give jockey Patrick Moloney his biggest success – Patrick’s grandfather Jim prepared the 1955 Newmarket winner Swynphilos.

AVAILABLE ON iOS

Available for free on the App Store, for when you’re on the go.

Get exclusive access to the Form Focus Verdict before the race is run, only available in the app.