R&S G1 Preview: Newmarket Handicap

Adam Blencowe takes a look at one of the great races on the Australian turf with a rich history and prized titles to claim.

The big handicaps are the soul of Australian racing. 

While handicaps are scoffed at in other racing jurisdictions, in Australia a champion's CV isn't complete without a big handicap. 

The best take on all comers and give them a chance. And punters get a chance as well. 

Few races do this better than the Newmarket. 

The premier handicap sprint in Australia has an honour roll littered with champions and fairytales. 

20-1 and 100-1 winners in the past two seasons fit the latter but this year looks a vintage edition at the top and while 'champion' might be laying it on a touch thick the winner is fancied to come from the elite rather than the opportunists. 

The elite in the race are headed by Private Eye, one who already has a big handicap to his name as an Epsom winner, and he has run second in another, the Stradbroke, under top weight. 

That run, rated 121 by Timeform, was a turning point for Private Eye who was sent sprinting in the spring and rattled of a trio of 123 ratings, winning the Gilgai over the Newmarket course and beating up on the 2022 Newmarket winner in the process, before a terrific second in the Everest.  

A win in the Nature Strip Stakes was backed up by a booming close that suggested he was ready to prove better than his 123 rating before a flat run seven days later tried back at a mile. 

The title of best sprinter in the land is up for grabs at the moment and few are better candidates to take over than Private Eye. 

Of those few, two line up against Private Eye in the Newmarket. 

I Wish I Win, like Private Eye, comes to the Newmarket as a miler-turned-sprinter having won the Golden Eagle in the spring on the back of a Toorak campaign.  

Trainer Peter Moody has won the Newmarket twice and run second another two times – the most recent of those being the one to best resemble I Wish I Win – Moment Of Change. 

Moment Of Change won the Rupert Clarke in the spring before being taken back in trip for the Lightning to set him straight ahead of the Newmarket.  

He ran a cracker there, chasing his legendary stablemate Black Caviar, running right to his peak rating just as I Wish I Win did in 2023. 

Moment Of Change backed that right up in the Newmarket with 56.5kgs – only to be picked off by Shamexpress – the three-year-old. 

Three-year-olds have made up 21.5% of runners in the past dozen years and provided four of the 12 winners – or 33.3%. 

They have performed well as a group and the key point of reference has been the Coolmore. Brazen Beau and Sunlight completed the double while the other two recent winners, Shamexpress and Bivouac, were placed in the Coolmore.

In fact, if we take a deeper look at Coolmore winners we see them winning at four times the rate of chance! 

This year's winner, In Secret, fronts up looking to add to that record and she is sure to be well fancied given how well those with her profile have performed. 

Her performance winning the Coolmore rates highly but she has been well below that level in two runs back from a break. 

That would be expected though, and this does have the look of the real target race for the campaign. She won the Coolmore coming back from 7 f and takes the same route this time through the 7 f Surround. 

Any queries about her hitting her peak for this are eased somewhat by her trainer James Cummings who continues to dominate Racing and Sports Trainer Rankings which measure efficiency in Group races. 

The 'Blue Jackets' continue to hit the mark in the big races and they bring another big profile to the race this time.

Sign up for our free newsletter.

© 2023 Sky Racing World. All rights reserved.