Queensland three year old Better Than Ready will head to Flemington in the morning for a Newmarket Handicap warm up with Craig Williams to test the exciting colt for Saturday’s Group 1 feature sprint.
Eagle Farm trainer Kelly Schweida reported that Better Than Ready arrived in Melbourne safely at the end of last week missing Brisbane’s weekend deluge which saw Saturday’s Eagle Farm meeting abandoned due to the persistent rain.
Melbourne’s hot and fine weather was a pleasant relief from the big wet in Queensland and Better Than Ready will have a solid hit out for Williams who is taking over from regular rider Ric McMahon who can’t make the 50.5kg in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
“He did some light work on Saturday morning and will have a good hit out on Tuesday,” Schweida said.
“Craig will test him in trackwork on Tuesday to get a feel for the big race.”
McMahon has been on the More Than Ready colt in all his five wins including his record breaking victory in the Listed $100,000 Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on October 20, setting a new 1200m track record of 1.8.19s.
Better Than Ready has firmed dramatically in Newmarket betting after winning over 1200m at Eagle Farm on February 23 and is now $6.50 third favourite after $51 was on offer in early markets.
The Peter Moody trained Moment Of Change is on top of Newmarket betting at $2.90 after running a solid second to champion stablemate Black Caviar in the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 16.
Western Australian sprinting sensation Barakey is on the second line of betting at $4.50 while fellow Perth galloper Luckygray at $6.50 with Better Than Ready.
Barakey will have to go into the Newmarket first up after being scratched at the barriers prior to the running of the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 23 when he tried to burrow under the front of the starting stalls.
Trainer Jim Taylor has subsequently taken Barakey back to the barriers and was passed by Victorian stewards and will also take him to Flemington in the morning to get a feel of the straight course.
“He went in and stood up perfectly before jumping well and he had a good hit out over about 700 metres, beating the rest of them easily.” Taylor said following Barakey’s barrier test at Caulfield.
“I’ll take him over to Flemington to have a look at the track. He hasn’t seen the straight before and when you’re are racing at that level any small advantage helps.”
Luckygray heads the weights in the $1 million sprint with 58kg while Barakey was allocated 56kg after winning the Group 1 $500,000 Crown Perth-Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth during the summer to take his record to eleven wins from eleven starts.