The world’s three highest rated sprinters according to the recently announced World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR) dominate the early nominations taken for this year’s 2015 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington’s Super Saturday on March 14.
Racing Victoria released nominations for the two Group 1 features at the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival meeting with entries now out for the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) and the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
Headlining the 57 Newmarket Handicap noms are Terravista, Lankan Rupee and Chautauqua – the trio running the trifecta in the Group 1 Darley Classic over the same track (Flemington) and distance (1200m) during the spring.
The Joe Pride-trained Terravista and Mick Price’s four-time Group 1 winner Lankan Rupee, who ran first and third respectively in the Darley Classic, were ranked the world’s equal highest-rated sprinters last week on 123 and will look to further cement their star status in the autumn.
Chautauqua for Team Hawkes was also right up the WTR rankings with 122, the lightly-raced Encosta De Lago four-year-old having had just the one Group 1 run to date.
Captain Rio five-year-old Terravista enjoyed his ninth win at start number 13 in last November’s Darley Classic that was also his maiden elite level victory.
Lankan Rupee then is the best experienced of the exciting trio, the gelding also the defending Newmarket Handicap champion.
He defeated Queensland’s Spirit Of Boom by two and a half lengths in the festival classic last year during a stunning string of wins that also included the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield and Sydney’s TJ Smith Stakes at elite level.
Along with the Darley Classic winner Pride has two other genuine Newmarket hopes in Rain Affair and Tiger Tees.
Hawkes Racing have also nominated for four others along with their superstar Chautauqua including Deep Field, the Northern Meteor four-year-old undefeated with five wins from as many starts to date.
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller also plays a strong hand in the Newmarket Handicap nominations this year with four entries.
He has paid up for multiple Group 1 champion Boban, Coolmore Stud Stakes winning colt Brazen Beau, fellow three-year-old Delecation who was runner-up to his stablemate in the Coolmore on Derby Day and dual Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Falls.
Adding another level of interest to this year’s possible Newmarket Handicap field is the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Criterion.
Winner of the Australian Derby – Rosehill Guineas double as a three-year-old when prepared by David Payne, the now four-year-old Sebring stallion debuted for his new trainers last month.
Taken overseas in mid-December Criterion caught the eye at Sha Tin when only a length away third to Designs On Rome in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
Other notable Newmarket Handicap nominees include Sandown winner on the weekend Reparations, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Driefontein, last year’s Blue Diamond winning filly Earthquake who is one of 19 three-year-olds in the mix, her Golden Slipper conqueror Mossfun also representing the Hawkes, Winterbottom Stakes winning WA raider Magnifisio and Peter Moody’s CF Orr Stakes – Futurity Stakes double winner Moment Of Change.