The Mark Newnham trained Lanciato will get his preferred dry racing surface when he lines up in the Group 3 $150,000 Newcastle Newmarket Handicap (1400m) at Newcastle today.
Lanciato is holding on to Newcastle Newmarket Handicap favouritism at $3.70 at Ladbrokes.com.au just ahead of Special Missile at $3.90 and will be at his best on top of the ground after Newnham said earlier in the week that he was hoping the track would be rated a Good 4 or better.
The Warwick Farm trainer has got his wish after the Newcastle Track was rated a Good 4 on race morning but there are still showers forecast during the day.
“We don’t need any more rain, we are desperate for a good four or better track rating in Friday’s Newmarket,” Newnham told the Newcastle Herald earlier in the week.
“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.”
Lanciato is the winner of his last two starts in a 1400m BenchMark 94 Handicap at Randwick on January and in the Listed $150,000 Carrington Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on January 27.
Newnham is not conered that Lanciato hasn’t raced for six weeks and said that the five year old worked strongly at Warwick Farm on Monday morning.
“I galloped Lanciato on the Warwick Farm course proper on Monday and he turned in a winning gallop,” Newnham said.
“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.”
Lanciato will jump from barrier six in the ten horse Newcastle Newmarket Handicap field and even though it is a non-claiming race, Newnham has stuck with apprentice Rachel King who has been aboard the five year old gelding for his last two wins.
“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,” Newnham said.
“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 John Thompson trained second favourite Special Missile worked his way up through the grades during his last campaign and after stringing together five wins on the trot that started in June, was spelled after finishing fourth to Got Unders in the 2017 Group 3 $150,000 Australian Bloodstock Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle in September.
Thompson has given Special Missile two barrier trials in preparation for his return to the race track and the Smart Missile four year old toyed with his opposition with a three and a half lengths win in his latest trial over 1200m at Randwick on February 27.
Brenton Avdulla was aboard for both trials and gets the mount again today on Special Missile who will jump from gate two.