The release of weights tomorrow for the Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) will start to shape the field for the $1m Group 1 sprint to be run at Flemington on March 10.
Sydney trainer Joe Pride said he would wait until weights were released before committing to a start with his exciting sprinter Rain Affair and Hay List’s trainer John McNair is also sitting on the fence until he studies the weights.
Racing Victoria handicapper Neil Jennings has already indicated that Black Caviar would head the list at 61.5kgs but with her absence already confirmed after trainer Peter Moody sent her to the paddock for a short break, Hay List will be topweight with possibly 58.5kgs if McNair decides to go around.
Pride is keen to take Rain Affair to Melbourne for the Newmarket after he again showed his supremacy with another easy win in the Group 2 $250,000 Hako Australia Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill last Saturday.
The Apollo win took the Commands four year old to his tenth victory from eleven starts but Pride doesn’t want to risk a trip inter state if he is not completely happy with everything.
“I would love to take him down for the Newmarket,” Pride said. “There are a few things that need to go my way to do that. I have to have a chat to the guys at Flemington and see if I can organise some work down the straight.
“I don’t want to jeopardise this horse. He is special to myself and (owner) Don Storey. Everything needs to go in my favour to go down there because there are plenty of good races in Sydney.
“I’m not asking for any favours, but if I don’t feel it’s the right thing to do, he will be staying here.”
Pride is expecting Rain Affair to be allocated 55kgs or 55.5kgs and is keen to contact the Victorian Race Club to arrange a gallop on the course proper before the Newmarket.
McNair said his concern was not so much what Hay List was allocated, but how close some of the other runners were weighted against him, especially Buffering and Foxwedge.
“Foxwedge finished 2.1 lengths behind us the other day (Lightning Stakes),” McNair said. “We couldn’t afford to give him 8.5kg. That would be ridiculous.
“You are talking about a horse that has run Sepoy, two starts ago at equal weights, to a neck up the straight. If Sepoy was weighted for the Newmarket, what would he get?”
If McNair dodges the Newmarket, Hay List will go around in the Group 2 $175,000 Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on March 31 and then onto the Group 1 $1m Darley T J Smith (1200m) at Randwick on April 14.
McNair is hoping to go one better this year after running into Black Caviar in last year’s TJ Smith when Hay List skipped away at the top of the rise only to be mowed down by the super star.
A track gallop at Gosford during the week will also go along way to making up the trainer’s mind on what direction he will take with his grand sprinter.
“He’ll go to Gosford on Tuesday to do a bit of work and we’ll work it out from there,” McNair said.