Warwick Farm trainer Mark Newnham is keeping an eye on the sky in the lead-up to Friday’s Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket (1400 metres), in which his former Kiwi gelding Lanciato has won four of his past six starts all on firm tracks and Newnham said on Wednesday that his sprinter has a dislike for rain-affected tracks.
“We don’t need any more rain, we are desperate for a good four or better track rating in Friday’s Newmarket,” Newnham said.
“This horse has been placed on rain-affected tracks but realistically Lanciato is not comfortable when the going is soft.
“I am confident that he can beat what is a strong Newmarket field if we get a good four or better.
“I galloped Lanciato on the Warwick Farm course proper on Monday and he turned in a winning gallop.
“His form is impeccable and I am not concerned that he hasn’t raced for six weeks. That is the way I planned it as he loves to be fresh.
“Lanciato came from near last to beat Group 1 horses in his last start in the Carrington at Rosehill. I have trialled him since at Rosehill on February 27 and he is rarin’ to go.
“Rachel King has ridden Lanciato in his past two starts and although she is an apprentice, who cannot claim she has done everything right on him and deserves the mount on Friday.
“I rode in a couple of Newcastle Newmarket’s and had no luck so I am hoping for better fortune watching from the grandstand.”
The trainer in his second season is chasing his second group win on Friday after his two-year-old Diamond Tathagata was successful in the 2017 Group 2 Skyline Stakes.
Kris Lees’ Group 1 winning six-year- old Sound Proposition is another former Kiwi with good credentials.
The gelding will carry topweight of 58 kilograms but he has the services of Hugh Bowman and has come up with the rails barrier. Sound Proposition was transferred to the Lees stable after failing in the Doomben Cup last winter.
He won his first two starts for Lees at Randwick before a narrow defeat in the Group 3 Newcastle Cameron Handicap. Sound Proposition has had two recent trials.
Lees has also accepted with the talented Artlee, which will have his third start after an injury-enforced 609 days spell. The seven-year- old has needed race fitness in his two starts this preparation and he is ready to fire.
Another Newcastle trained sprinter with a chance is Rod Ollerton’s Royal Tudor. The latter was desperately unlucky first up in the Randwick Summer Sprint in January before a close third at Rosehill two weeks ago.
Chris Waller’s Irish import Mister Sea Wolf has a tremendous first-up record. In seven first-up runs, Mister Sea Wolf has won three and he placed in three other starts.
The Godolphin pair Duca Valentinois and Spectroscope cannot be underestimated.
Duca Valentinois was unlucky when close up after never seeing daylight on February 17. Spectroscopes finished third in the Cameron Handicap in September.
Special Missile has a fine record and trialled brilliantly recently while Shiraz resumes on the back of two recent trial wins.
AAP reports: Champion sprinter Chautauqua will have to run twice to get a barrier certificate before he races again after refusing for a third time to compete in a Sydney barrier trial.
Chautauqua, who stayed in the gates in two trials at Randwick last week, lined up for a heat at Rosehill on Thursday as ordered by Racing NSW stewards. He did eventually leave the gates and completed the course well behind the last runner in his heat.
Chief steward Marc Van Gestel consulted with senior trainer John Hawkes who said Chautauqua would head to Hawkes Racing's Melbourne stable and take part in a jump-out at Flemington on Friday week.
But if the bar is to be lifted, he will still have to run in an official trial of which there are fewer in Victoria than NSW.
"After consulting with RVL Stewards and having regard to the frequency of official barrier trials in Victoria, Stewards have determined that should connections seek to have the requirement to barrier trial on two occasions lifted in Victoria, that Chautauqua could pass one of the two tests in a Victorian official jump out which is observed by the Stewards, consistent with the current practice in that state. However, the remaining test must be in an official barrier trial," a stewards release said.
Managing owner Rupert Legh is of the view perhaps the gelding is missing jockey Tommy Berry who is now based in Hong Kong but has been in touch to offer his services.
Berry has won the past three TJ Smith Stakes on Chautauqua and rode him to win the Chairman's Sprint in Hong Kong in May 2016.
"I have had Tommy on the phone and Tommy is desperate to get back on the horse," Legh told Sky Sports Radio.
"It might be one of those fairy tale type situations where there is a relationship between horse and jockey and he just wants the same jockey on board. I mentioned it to John (Hawkes) this morning and he does not think that was the case, but it may well be."
Legh said he had not had any thoughts about retiring Chautauqua who is relatively lightly raced for a seven-year-old having had 32 starts for 13 wins and 11 minor placings for earnings of more than $8.8 million.