By Ray Hickson
It may sound silly but trainer Mark Newnham says Lanciato probably has a better chance of beating 19 rivals in Saturday’s Group 1 $1m TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m) than if he had half as many to chase down.
Crucial to that thought is the fact Lanciato has drawn favourably which means he’s unlikely to be forced back to last and won’t actually have to run past 19 horses to win.
Lanciato is well known for his ability to reel off a slick sectional and Newnham hopes a combination of that trait, a gun ride from Rachel King and a bit of luck is the right formula.
“With a full field and a pressure race it is probably an advantage to him, it’ll be up to Rachel to find the right back and give him the chance in the last 200m,’’ Newnham said.
“When you draw wide you take him back whereas if he draws inside he can be where he’s happy and that might be in front of five or six.
“But it will have him two or three lengths closer without doing any work.’’
Earlier this year in the Doncaster Mile, Lanciato drew 13 of 16 and settled second last before finishing seventh beaten 3.6 lengths.
A prime example of what a barrier draw can do for Lanciato can be seen in his Carrington Stakes (1400m) win back in Janaury.
He ran down Prized Icon to win the Listed race after turning abour four lengths off the lead but had to overcome a few traffic jams which is where that electric turn of foot came in handy.
Last start in the Tramway Stakes, also over 1400m, he drew wide and had to be taken back to last on a day when making ground wasn’t easy.
He still managed to run the fastest 400m-200m of 10.75 for the race (Punters Intel), illustrating his run was better than finishing eighth looks on paper.
“He went better than expected first-up and that may have taken the edge off him a bit second-up,’’ Newnham said.
“But with the 10m rail that day his racing pattern wasn’t suited. He trialled well last Friday and backed it up with a good gallop on Monday.
“He’s going in there fit, his coat has come right and I couldn’t be happier.’’
Lanciato was a $16 chance with TAB on Thursday.
Lanciato's barrier trial at Rosehill on September 21
Newnham isn’t conceding the Group 1 $500,000 Darley Flight Stakes (1600m) to hot favourite Miss Fabulass, he says his two fillies Maid of Heaven and Nakeeta Jane are untapped and have bright futures.
Maid of Heaven ($11) produced a late burst to run fifth, off a five week break, in the Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) two weeks ago while Nakeeta Jane ($18) was an impressive midweek maiden winner at just her second start.
“(Maid Of Heaven) is the filly that is less exposed and with the most improvement out of that race the other day,’’ he said.
“She’s eating a bigger feed now than a month ago and that’s a sign she is thriving. We’ll have a crack at the top line on Saturday then go to the paddock.
“Nakeeta Jane is a run behind the other filly but has just as much talent. What encouraged me was the way she came through last Wedmesday’s race and then her work on Monday.’’
Newnham has Nakeeta Jane pegged as an Oaks filly for next autumn.
He’ll produce the early favourite for the Group 3 $160,000 Arrowfield Breeders’ Plate (1000m) in two-time trial winner Exceed The Stars.
The Star Witness colt ($2.90) has shown himself to be a precocious youngster and while the early two-year-old races can be unpredictable the trainer is confident he’ll do everything right.
“He just showed natural talent from the start. He did well enough between trials to trial again and he showed the benefit of that when he trialled the second time,’’ Newnham said.
“He’s come through that well, he’s had just the one gallop since then and I rode him myself.''