Big race jockey Glen Boss is willing to forgive Bernabeu for his last start failure and is giving him a good chance to bounce back in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Boss will be having his first race ride on the John O’Shea trained Bernabeu and believes he can do better than his last start twelfth of twelve behind Snitzerland in the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 15 when ridden Nash Rawiller.
Boss spoke to Rawiller regarding the poor performance of Bernabeu in the Black Caviar Lightning and the top Sydney rider agreed with O’Shea that the slippery wet track was the main reason the three year old failed to beat a runner home.
Bernabeu was sent out the $4.80 second favourite but after a shower of rain went across the Flemington course, it virtually ended any hope he had.
“There was rain before his last run, but I don’t know if that was a legitimate excuse,” Boss told Racenet.
“I spoke with Nash and he said the horse just ‘skated’. It’s a bit of an unknown.
“He trialled well, and if he runs up to his best he’ll be hard to beat.”
Bernabeu pleased O’Shea with an impresssive 800m jump out win over Newmarket Handicap rivals Shamexpress and Va Pensiero at Flemington on Tuesday morning which prompted the top Randwick trainer to accept for the Newmarket Handicap.
“I was happy with him this morning, and he’s been flying all preparation, he just got a wet track in the Lightning Stakes, and he ran accordingly,” O’Shea old News Limited on Tuesday.
Boss’ manager Reece Murphy said that the champion jockey would have no trouble getting down to the 50kgs on Saturday and that Boss did get a feel of the Fastnet Rock gelding in track work prior to his running in the Black Caviar Lightning.
”We didn’t have a ride but John rang and said the horse would start and he was double checking that Glen could get down to the 50 kilos, which he can do,” Murphy said.
”He rode the horse before the Lightning Stakes and was greatly impressed by the horse’s speed, but it seemed he just turned in an inglorious performance in the race.
”But from all reports he looked very strong in his last major gallop before Saturday.
”He’s got no weight and if he can reproduce his best he’ll certainly be a threat.”
Even though Bernabeu was disappointing last start, he has recorded a win up the Flemington straight beating Iconic by three and a quarter lengths over 1000m on Melbourne Cup day last year.
O’Shea has taken the blinkers off Bernabeu who will jump from gate six in the fifteen horse field of quality sprinters.
The Danny O’Brien trained Shamexpress is aiming for back to back Newmarket Handicap wins and will jump from gate three with Damien Oliver to ride while Moment Of Change abd Luke Nolen are going for a Group 1 hat trick and looking to reverse last year’s result when nosed out by the then three year old.
Proven Group 1 performer Samaready with regular rider Craig Newitt has drawn barrier nine while stable mate and the new rising sprinting star Lankee Rupee will come out of gate thirteen with Chad Schofield to ride.
Lankan Rupee will again take on Spirit Of Boom and the much improved Knoydart after beating that pair in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 22.
In a hotly contested Newmarket Handicap market order, Ladbrokes.com.au has Lankan Rupee the $4.40 favourite slightly ahead of Shamexpress at $4.60 and Samaready at $4.80.
Next in the betting is Moment Of Change at $9.50, Knoydart at $10, Unpretentious at $15 and Spirit Of Boom at $16.