The 2016 Newmarket Handicap field has been released and Chautauqua is set to take on ten rival sprinters in the Group 1 event at Flemington this afternoon.
Chautauqua claimed a third win at the highest level of racing when he stormed home from the tail of the field to record an eye-catching victory in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 20 and he will carry the top weight of 58 kilograms.
The son of Encosta De Lago was upstaged by Brazen Beau in the Newmarket Handicap last year, but connections are hopeful that Chautauqua will be able to go one better in the 2016 edition of the race.
Brazen Beau may not be in the 2016 Newmarket Handicap field, but trainer Chris Waller will still be represented in the form of Delectation, Japonisme and Counterattack.
Delectation upset Chautauqua to win the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival and he is sure to have benefitted from his run in the Black Caviar Lighting Stakes, while Japonisme was only narrowly denied by Chautauqua and Terravista in the same race and will carry just 52.5 kilograms this weekend.
Counterattack could be the x-factor in the Newmarket Handicap and he will carry just 50 kilograms, but he has not been seen at the races since he finished third behind Spill The Beans in the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on February 6.
No horse has won the Newmarket Handicap first-up in the modern era, but Black Heart Bart will have the chance to do just that when he makes his Melbourne racing debut in the Newmarket Handicap.
Black Heart Bart has not been seen at the races since he finished a more than credible second behind Delicacy in the Group 2 Cox Stakes (2100m) at Ascot on December 19, but he has an excellent first-up record and won the Listed Birthday Stakes (1200m) first-up last preparation.
The most notable absentee from the Newmarket Handicap field is Terravista, who finished an unlucky second behind Chautauqua in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes.
Trainer Joe Pride is yet to reveal the exact reason why Terravista has been removed from the Group 1 event, but he is believed to have suffered a minor injury.
Pride could still be represented in the Newmarket Handicap by Tiger Tees, but the veteran sprinter has also been included in the field for the Gold Coast Stakes (1200m) that will be held at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
The 2016 Newmarket Handicap field is rounded out by Charmed Harmony (barrier one), Churchill Dancer (barrier six), The Quarterback (barrier nine), Keen Array (barrier four) and Secret Agenda (barrier five).