Progressive gelding Mecir stormed home down the outside to record his maiden win at Group level in the Newcastle Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Broadmeadow Racecourse this afternoon.
Mecir was positioned towards the tail of the field by jockey James McDonald and the rising hoop angled the Lonhro gelding out wide coming around the final turn before asking for an extra effort with 300 metres left to run.
Strawberry Boy led the field throughout the race and battled on bravely in the final stages, but was swooped by Mecir with 50 metres left to run, while imported stayer Slow Pace worked home strongly to finish third.
Mecir has had no luck in his past two starts, finishing fourth in both the Gardenia Handicap (1400m) and February Handicap (1400m) after being blocked for runs in the straight, but McDonald admitted that he was a bit fortunate on the five-year-old this afternoon.
“He was very good,” McDonald said after the race.
“We got awkwardly placed at the back of the field and I was a bit lucky; Macca (Kieran McEvoy on Pinwheel) made a run and that dragged me into the race quite nicely and he did the rest.
“I am sure that it will be a good form race, there is a bit of form in the race, and he is a good horse.
“I’ve been unlucky on him a couple of times and it was good to get a result on him today.”
Kris Lees-trained Slow Pace was making his Australian racing debut and was contesting a race over 1400 metres for the first time in his career in the Newcastle Newmarket Handicap, but was able to make up plenty of ground late to finish in the placings.
The Distorted Humor gelding has strong form at Group level in Europe and has been included in the nominations for both the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Another stayer who produced an eye-catching run was 2011 Melbourne Cup placegetter Maluckyday, who was returning to the races for the first time since he finished fourth behind Permit in the Listed Christmas Cup (2400m) at Randwick on December 14.
Maluckyday was badly outpaced in the early stages of the race, but made contact with the field coming around the final bend and flashed home late to finish fifth.
Team Hawkes was celebrating their fourth win in the Newcastle Newmarket Handicap after previously winning the race with Danzippo (2007), Crawl (2001) and Deposition (1993).