Jockey Craig Newitt is hoping that Almalad can bounce back to his best form in the 2014 Cox Plate after he finished a disappointing eighth in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11.
Almalad went into the Caulfield Guineas as one of the main chances and he sat just off the leader Rich Enuff in the early stages of the race, but he tired dramatically in the last 200 metres to finish eighth more than seven lengths behind the winner Shooting To Win.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse has indicated that Almalad had some excuses for his poor performance in the Caulfield, but Newitt told Racing Ahead that he thought the effort of the Al Maher gelding was disappointing and believes the three-year-old will need to produce a much better effort to be any chance in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
“To be honest I thought that he was a little plain the other day,” Newitt said.
“There has been talk that he had to do a lot of work up the hill in the early stages of the race and that is the reason that he didn’t really quiet finish it off, but I thought the second horse did just as much work and he really stuck on.
“Hopefully from the gate we will be able to slot in somewhere and get a softer run early.
“Listening to Tommy (Berry) and Gai (Waterhouse), the 2000 is going to be no worries for him and with no weight on his back hopefully he can get a good ride into the race and finish off.
“She has always had this on the program, she booked me a fair way out and she has stuck solid to her plan.
“Hopefully she can turn him around from his last run and he produces his best.”
Almalad will carry just 49 and a half kilograms and the light weight is the reason that Newitt has replaced regular hoop Tommy Berry on the three-year-old.
Newitt has had plenty of time to make sure that he is at the right weight to ride Almalad in the Cox Plate and he said that he has been able to cut the required amount of weight without too many issues.
“It hasn’t been too bad,” Newitt said.
“I am sitting on about 50 and a half so far and I haven’t done it too hard so far.
“The last kilo will probably throw me out, but it won’t be a problem.”
Almalad has been backed into 2014 Cox Plate odds of $31 to give Newitt and Waterhouse their first win in the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship.