Chris Waller considers his trio of Delectation, Japonisme and Counterattack are well weighted in the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Waller has great respect for the topweight Chautauqua, who has to carry 58kg, but at the weights is giving his three runners a great chance of causing an upset win over the short priced favourite.
“I’m Chautauqua’s biggest fan,” Waller told the Herald Sun.
“He’s a super horse, but it’s hard to turn the tables on the weight scale.”
“I’m hoping the handicapper has done his job and there’s a head between the first five.”
“If that’s the case, I’ve got three chances.”
Delectation was the winner of the Group 1 $1m Darley Classic over the same course and distance as the Newmarket Handicap during last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival and will carry 56kg on Saturday with Damien Oliver in the saddle.
Three year old Japonisme is also a winner down the Flemington straight over the 1200m when he beat Keen Array and stablemate Counterattack in the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes on Derby Day.
Japonisme has been allocated 52.5kg with Craig Williams to ride while Counterattack is on the 50kg minimum with Glen Boss aboard.
Japonisme and Delectation both raced in the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington three weeks, finishing third and fifth respectively behind Chautauqua.
While Counterattack is coming off a first up third to Spill The Beans in the Group 3 $150,000 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 6.
Brazen Beau won the Newmarket Handicap for Waller last year and the champion trainer is hoping Japonisme can do the same coming off a similar preparation.
“They both won the Coolmore Stud Stakes and then were placed in the Lightning Stakes first-up before winning the Newmarket Handicap,” Waller said.
“Japonisme is very similar in a lot of ways to Brazen Beau. Like Brazen Beau last year, he’s got the right weight.”
Waller was happy with the way Japonisme hit the line when beaten a head and a head when third to Chautauqua in the Black Caviar Lightning and the Choisir gelding will meet the topweight 2.5kg better at the weights.
“He was strong to the line,” Waller said.
“I really liked his last 100m. I had some doubts earlier, but he’s really proved he’s a Group 1 horse at his last two starts.”
“Delectation is a 1400m horse and 1200m straight races are run like 1400m races.”
“We know he runs a strong 1200m down the straight.”
Waller is also expecting Counterattack to figure in the finish with his lightweight.
“He’s the colt, so he’s been aimed at this,” Waller said.
“He’s showing signs he belongs at this level and he’s a genuine lightweight chance.”
Waller has monitored his three Newmarket Handicap runners during the week and said Japonisme was the pick of the three going on their track work performances.
“All three did similar work, but Japonisme was the sharpest of the three,” Waller said.
The market order for the Newmarket Handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au reflects Waller’s thoughts with Japonisme on the second line of betting at $3.70, firming in from $4.20 when the final field was released on Wednesday.
Counterattack is marked at $9.50 just ahead of Delectation at $10 with Chautauqua still holding the top spot at $2.60.
Newmarket Handicap market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.60 Chautauqua, $3.70 Japonisme, $9.50 Counterattack, $10 Delectation, $14 Secret Agenda, $16 Keen Array, $19 Black Heart Bart, $21 The Quarterback, Churchill Dancer, $126 Charmed Harmony.