Racing Victoria Handicapper Neil Jennings has pinpointed the Peter Moody trained Moment Of Change as the horse to beat in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 9.
Jennings released weights yesterday for the $1m sprint down the Flemington straight with Moment Of Change receiving 56.5kg, 1.5kg below topweight Luckygray who was allocated 58kg.
“His run in the Lightning Stakes was exceptional. If he runs up to that, he is definitely the horse to beat in the race,” Jennings said.
Moment Of Change showed that he was top class winning the Group 1 $400,000 Clamms Seafood Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 30 last Spring and then produced a tip top performance when second first-up to stablemate Black Caviar in the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 16.
When the weights were released Jennings had to raise them by 2kgs to obtain the mandatory topweight of 58kgs resulting in Western Australian Group 1 winner Luckygray being elevated to the top spot with Black Caviar and Hay List sticking to weight for races during the Autumn.
“The topweight is the West Australian Luckygray, a dual Group 1 winner,” Jennings said.
“He has won 12 of 18 starts and is unbeaten in five starts at 1200m.”
Luckygray will be having his first run since winning the Group 1 $500,000 TAB Touch.Mobi – Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 8 and has history against him as the Newmarket has not been won by a horse first up since Polycrates won in 1917.
But in the Western Australian gallopers favour is the fact that three of the last four winners have been topweight, Scenic Blast in 2009, Black Caviar in 2011 and last year’s winner Hay List.
“But he must beat history, in a sense, because the last galloper to win this race first-up was Polycrates in 1917,” Jennings said.
“However, three of the past four winners have carried top weight.”
Fellow Western Australian star, the unbeaten Barakey will also have to go into the Newmarket Handicap first up after being scratched at the barrier prior to the start of the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield last Saturday which was won by Sydney mare Mrs Onassis.
Barakey was a short priced favourite before he tried to burrow under the front of the starting stalls but trainer Jim Taylor has reported that the five year old has come through the incident unscathed and will take his place in the Newmarket Handicap on Saturday week.
“He’s good, now worries. The important thing is that he is as good as gold ,” Taylor said.
Barakey, who has been allocated 56kg for the Newmarket, is the winner of eleven races and kept his unbeaten record intact when taking out the Group 1 $500,000 Crown Perth-Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on November 24.
Moment Of Change heads the market order at $2.80 with Barakey the second pick at $4.50 in front of Luckygray at $6.50.
Queensland rising sprinting star Better Than Ready is next in the betting at $9 then we go out to Ortensia and Shamexpress at $21.