The winners of the last two Newmarket Handicaps, Black Caviar and Hay List head the list of the star studded 65 nominations for this year’s Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 9.
Last year’s winner Hay List put up an incredible weight carrying exhibition when he nosed out Queenslander Buffering with 58.5kgs while Black Caviar carried 58kgs when an easy three lengths winner over Crystal Lilly in 2011.
Black Caviar showed that she has overcome her minor injuries she sustained when winning the Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 23 with an impressive 800m jumpout win at Sportingbet Park Sandown, pleasing trainer Peter Moody.
”It was a good chance to give her gallop away from Caulfield and she just had soft half mile jumpout,” Moody said.
”I’m very happy with her.”
Moody is aiming to start the world’s number one sprinter in the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 16 to kick off her Australian farewell tour with a start in the Newmarket Handicap hinging on what weight she received from Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter.
“A lot will depend not on what weight she is given but the weight given to those around her,” Moody said.
Trainer John McNair was originally setting his grand sprinter Hay List to return to the racetrack after a lengthy time off due to injury in the Lightning, but now is leaning to a Newmarket Handicap return.
“I had originally only been thinking about the Lightning Stakes but with that three week gap between the Lightning and the Newmarket, although it doesn’t sound like much, it really gives us that extra time to get him fit.
“He’s on schedule. He will have at least one, if not two trials before he runs and we’ll just see how the next five or six weeks go and what the field is like and then we’ll work it out from there.”
McNair would prefer that his great sprinter Hay List and Black Caviar not to meet, but he won’t be walking away from a clash with the super mare down the Flemington straight.
“How blessed are we in racing right now with Black Caviar and with him, they’re just two excitement machines. Personally I’d just love for them to not meet for a while,” McNair said.
Hay List has finished second to Black Caviar in the last two runnings of the Lightning Stakes and had to be scratched from the 2011 Newmarket Handicap which Black Caviar won.
Black Caviar is one six entries form the Moody stable in the $1m sprint which includes new stable acquisition Karuta Queen, Group 1 winner Moment Of Change, smart sprinter Golden Archer and three year olds Later Gator and Office Bearer.
Gai Waterhouse has four entries headed by two year old triple crown champion Pierro, promising three year old Proisir, Group 2 winner Hallowell Belle and Nobby Snip.
Darley has six representatives spearheaded by Pinwheel and Rarefied who hasn’t raced since December 2011 with his best performance being second in the Group 1 $500,000 Crown Perth-Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth.
And Perth trainer Jim Taylor is sending over this year’s Winterbottom Stakes winner Barakey to take on the best sprinters in the country.