Redkirk Warrior would carry 58.5kg – the joint topweight – if he bids to become the first horse in history to win the Group 1 Seppelt Newmarket Handicap (1200m) for a third consecutive year.
Lindsay Park’s globetrotting galloper and his fellow Group 1 winner Santa Ana Lane, trained by the in-form Anthony Freedman stable, were both assigned 58.5kg when the weights were released by Racing Victoria's Senior Handicapper David Hegan today (Tuesday, 26 February).
The $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap, first run in 1874, is one of two Group 1 races which headline Flemington’s ‘Super Saturday’ meeting on 9 March.
Redkirk Warrior, who has amassed almost $2.8 million in prizemoney, shouldered 52.5kg when he broke through for his first Group 1 victory in 2017, before he repeated the feat – by the narrowest of margins – with 57.5kg on his back 12 months later.
Santa Ana Lane carried 58.5kg to victory on his last start in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m), run at Flemington during last year’s Spring Racing Carnival. His trainer will now aim to take out another of the Festival of Racing’s feature races, having won last week’s Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) with Lyre.
The 2018 Newmarket Handicap runner-up, Kris Lees’ Japanese import Brave Smash, comes next in this year’s weight scale on 57kg, and is followed on 56kg by both Voodoo Lad (trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace) and Godolphin gelding Osborne Bulls (James Cummings), who came within a nose of claiming a maiden Group 1 when he flashed home in the Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) on Saturday, 16 February.
Another runner from the Lees stable, In Her Time, pipped Osborne Bulls to the prize that day and, should she attempt to win back-to-back Group 1s at Flemington, the six-year-old mare will be asked to carry 55.5kg.
Her stable companion, exciting three-year-old Graff, has been assigned 51kg and will be ridden by Western Australia’s leading jockey, William Pike.
Other entrants of note include Santa Ana Lane’s stablemate Shoals (55kg); Chris Waller’s enigmatic sprinter Nature Strip (54.5kg); Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra’s last-start Group 1 Ladbrokes Oakleigh Plate (1100m) winner Booker (53kg); and Tony McEvoy’s flying filly Sunlight (50.5kg).
In addition to Redkirk Warrior, four other horses have won the Newmarket Handicap twice: Aspen (1880 and 1881); Gothic (1927 and 1928); Correct (1960 and 1961); and Razor Sharp (1982 and 1983).
The last horse to carry 58.5kg to victory in the Newmarket Handicap was Hay List, in 2012.
A total of 40 entrants remain in contention for the Newmarket Handicap, which is one of only two races at Flemington – the other being the Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) – in which 24 horses are permitted to start.
To view the full list of weights allocated for the Newmarket Handicap, please click here.