Dumped jockey Craig Newitt says that Extreme Choice is the horse to beat in the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
A twisting set of circumstances has seen Newitt team back up with last year’s Newmarket Handicap winner The Quarterback after losing the ride on the Mick Price trained Extreme Choice but he still thinks the Not A Single Doubt colt will be hard to beat.
“Especially if the inside is not an advantage, he (Extreme Choice) is going to be in the right spot,” Newitt told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“But then if the inside is the advantage and the place to be, it leaves him in no man’s land.”
“I think the three year olds have a mortgage on it’.
“The way I envisage the race going to be is that the main players are going to be in the middle of the track.”
Extreme Choice has drawn the outside barrier in the thirteen horse field while The Quarterback will jump from the middle of the pack at gate seven to try to win back to back Newmarket Handicaps.
Newitt had ridden Extreme Choice on five occasions for two wins at Group 1 level in the 2016 $1.5m Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield as a two year old and in the Group 1 $500,000 Charter Keck Cramer Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley when he resumed in the Spring as a three year old.
But he found himself on the outer after the pair came from back in the field to run third behind Sheidel and Faatinah in the Group 1 $500,000 The Resimax Group Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 25.
Newitt had been told that Damien Oliver had been booked to ride Extreme Choice in the William Reid Stakes but now that he is running in the Newmarket Handicap, Hong Kong’s Magic Man Joao Moreira got the nod.
Price had originally pencilled in the Group 1 $500,000 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 24 but when stablemate Flying Artie was ruled out of the Newmarket Handicap because of injury, he switched Extreme Choice back to Flemington.
Newitt said that he was disappointed to lose the ride on Extreme Choice who he rated as the best two year old and three year old he had ridden.
“It is done now and you can’t change it, so we just have to try and roll him,” Newitt said.
“Obviously it was (disappointing). He is the best two year old I have ever ridden and the best three year old I have ever ridden.”
“I think I had five rides on him, won two Group 1s, got beat a length in another one. He was a very good little horse to me.”
“Yes it was a bit of a stinger to get taken off of him, but you just have to move on.”
“I think there were a couple of owners that weren’t quite happy (with Oakleigh Plate ride) and there were a few that were disappointed that I was taken off.”
“I think that is part and parcel of horses that have a thousand owners in them, the majority rules I suppose.”
Extreme Choice is on the second line of betting at $5 with Ladbrokes.com.au for the Newmarket Handicap behind the $3.40 favourite Spieth while The Quarterback is rated one of the outsiders of the field at $26.