Jockey Craig Newitt is in line to pick up Damien Oliver’s discard as his mount for the Group 1 $1.5m Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 27.
Oliver has been given first choice for Mick Price’ two smart colts Extreme Choice and Flying Artie and the champion jockey will choose between them after the running of the Group 3 $200,000 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) (1100m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Extreme Choice has already displayed his natural ability with wins from his only two starts in the $500,000 Inglis Nursery (1000m) at Randwick on December 12 with Glyn Schofield and in the Group 3 $150,000 Chairman’s Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield last Saturday with Oliver in the saddle.
Flying Artie goes around in the Blue Diamond Prelude on Saturday with Oliver, but the Artie Schiller colt will have to be as good as the pre-race rapt if his is to overcome the outside barrier to win.
At this stage Oliver is leaning towards Extreme Choice, but an extra ordinary performance by Flying Artie on Saturday could swing the premiership winning jockey’s thoughts.
“Both are showing a lot of potential – it’s a good position to be in,” Oliver said.
“We’ll see how Flying Artie measures up on Saturday and we’ll make a decision after the races.
“He’ll have run really well to warrant getting off Extreme Choice because he’s got the score on the board.”
Newitt is happy to sit on the sidelines and wait for Oliver’s decision and will be happy to ride either colt in Melbourne’s showpiece $1.5 million two year old race.
“I think Mick’s got the winner – which one? We don’t know,” Newitt told racing.com.
“I think it’ll come down to barrier draws and probably luck in running – there’s probably not a lot between them.
“Over 1000m Extreme Choice would probably have his measure, but anything over that, from what I’ve gathered at trackwork, Flying Artie is right on his tail.
“It’s going to be an interesting decision which way Ollie goes, but I’ll be sitting there waiting to pounce.”
Despite Flying Artie having to jump from barrier fifteen in the Blue Diamond Prelude, he still heads the market order at Ladbrokes.com.au at $4.40, just ahead of the Paul Messara trained Weatherly at $4.80.
While the early betting for the Blue Diamond Stakes has Flying Artie listed as an $11 chance while Extreme Choice is the short priced favourite at $2.70.
Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.40 Flying Artie, $4.80 Weatherly, $5.50 Star Turn, $7.50 Cohesion, $13 Power Trip, $17 Revolving Door, $18 Capanello, El Venetian, Ocean Grove, $26 Bullion Wolf, Lionhearted, $31 China Dream, $51 Ambitious Ex, $101 Los Cabos, Black Energy.