By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham is hopeful stable mainstay Lanciato will finally be rewarded with a Group 1 later in the carnival and heads to Randwick on Saturday confident a first-up win is on the cards.
It’s been almost a year since Lanciato’s last win and the same amount of time since he tackled a Group 3 event so Newnham feels he’s ideally placed in the $160,000 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m).
“To me it’s as winnable a race as he’s been in first-up,’’ Newnham said.
“He’s probably in as good a shape as I’ve had him first-up. Generally he goes into his first-up runs not quite there.
“He’s on a suitable track and suitable grade, as with his racing style he needs a bit of luck.’’
There are few horses with the turn of foot the six-year-old possesses as was evident first-up in the spring when he ran fourth behind Pierata and Kementari in the Missile Stakes. He ended that campaign with an unlucky fifth in a Group 2 down the Flemington straight.
Lanciato clocked the fastest last 600m of 32.60 (Punters Intelligence) in the weight-for-age Missile and drops to 56kg under the quality handicap conditions.
So with a significant class drop it’s somewhat surprising TAB opened the gelding at $17.
“If he went as well as he did first-up last prep he’d probably win,’’ Newnham said.
“He’s down a level and he’s going to get good ground. There’s enough runners there to create some pressure and if he’s within three or four lengths of them he has the sprint to pick them up.’’
Newnham earmarked the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) on April 20 as the ideal race for Lanciato and flagged a possible Brisbane campaign as well.
“The All Aged will be a primary target for him and a secondary target for some,’’ he said.
During the week he purchased a full sister to Lanciato at the Inglis Classic Sale for $100,000.
Two of Newnham’s major Oaks contenders, Greysful Glamour and Nakeeta Jane, kick off their campaign in the Group 2 $200,000 TAB Light Fingers Stakes (1200m).
The duo will find the sprint trip a bit short but Newnham said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Nakeeta Jane sprint very well fresh after impressing in her two trials.
Lanciato's last first-up run in the Missile Stakes at Randwick in August
“Nakeeta Jane has trialled a bit sharper than she did ut she was very green when she trialled last time,’’ he said.
“I‘d say she has a bit more race sense, a bit mentally stronger.
“Even though I’d expect they will be a bit sharp for her over 1200m she is a high class filly who I would expect to run well.’’
Nakeeta Jane graduated quickly from a maiden win to a close third in the Group 1 Flight Stakes. Greysful Glamour is returning after a close second in the Victorian Oaks.
Newnham said he isn’t expecting too much from her until she reaches at least 1600m.