Co-trainer Lee Freedman this week confirmed the Newmarket Handicap could be a possible Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival target for Group 1 performed Reparations should the sprinter handle his heavy weight allocation in Thursday’s Standish Handicap.
The six-year-old Exceed And Excel gelding has just his second run back off a five month spell at Flemington Racecourse on New Year’s Day and is current co-favourite to take out this summer’s $150,000 Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m).
Drawn ideally for the sprint showdown in barrier two with Dwayne Dunn to ride, Reparations pays $4 in the latest markets at Ladbrokes as does Robbie Laing’s consistent Danerich four-year-old Lord Of The Sky.
Winner of the Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield back in early July, Lord Of The Sky comes off a credible second behind Tried And Tired in the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) at Sandown-Lakeside from Boxing Day.
The Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained Reparations meanwhile had his latest start back on Melbourne Cup Day, November 4, at Flemington when the first-up winner of the Listed MSS Security Stakes (1200m).
Carrying 55.5kg in his first run since finishing at the tail-end of the field when 15th behind River Lad in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm during the winter in Queensland, the galloper beat home Office Bearer by one and a quarter lengths.
In the MSS Security Stakes Reparations, whose other most recent win was in the Listed Anniversary Vase (1440m) at Caulfield in early May, was ridden by Wayne Lordan.
For his January first assignment Dunn takes over but will ride the horse on what could prove to be a difficult impost of 59kg.
“I think the 59kg could be a bit of an issue, the nature of the race and who is in it led to him being the mandatory top weight, that is the only downer,” Freedman told the Racing Network.
Still, the team are confident the horse is in the right condition for a good run that could lead him to target the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) back at the track on March 14.
“He appears to be in good order and is a horse that obviously races well down the straight,” Freedman said.
“If he is able to perform well with the weight, the Newmarket has to be an obvious option.
“He went down to the Peninsula for a couple of weeks after his win on Melbourne Cup day, he has had a trial and is in good order.”
Freedman said the horse’s current handicap rating of 102 was another reason why a Group 1 run in the Newmarket was being seriously considered as an autumn aim.
“There is not many options for a horse of his rating at this time of year so we might need to look at higher targets if he goes well again,” he said.
The other headline hopefuls for the Standish Handicap are 2013 Newmarket Handicap third placegetter Aeronautical ($6) and the Peter Moody-trained Office Bearer ($7) who ran second in the MSS Security Stakes before a disappointing ninth to Fast ‘n’ Rocking in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) at Sandown-Hillside on November 15.