Newcastle trainer David Atkins does not hide his admiration for his classy three-year-old Plaisir, favourite for Saturday’s 1400 metre Benchmark 65 Handicap at Newcastle Racecourse.
The son of 2003 Royal Ascot hero Choisir has only had five starts for a win and three placings. The gelding resumed from a seven-month spell to come from last and win a 1200 metre Maiden on this track on May 27.
Plaisir’s best performance in his short career was three weeks ago at Newcastle on June 22. He settled at the tail of the field and then unleashed a barnstorming finish from the top of the straight to go down by only three quarters of a length.
The winner Steyne, a highly promising three-year-old, then went to Warwick Farm next start and duly saluted. Atkins, who has trained Group winners Reckless Tradition, Moss Rocket and Impaler, is bullish about Plaisir’s prospects on Saturday.
“His run last start behind a smart horse was outstanding. He raced keen early before Robert Thompson settled him and his last 600 metres was great. ‘RT’ said Plaisir broke 34 seconds for the last 600 and he was rapt in the performance.
"From his good barrier on Saturday he should race much closer. This horse was a work in progress early on, but he has grown up a lot. Plaisir is the most promising horse I have trained for some time and I expect him to win on Saturday.
"I also have Longchamp Lass in race seven and she has been placed in her past four starts. She will run her usual honest race,” Atkins said.
Warwick Farm trainer Mark Newnham is confident that the speedy Lucky Fish can win the 1300 metre Class 2 Handicap providing the four-year-old has a soft run in front.
“Lucky Fish is an inconsistent horse but if he can lead unchallenged this should be his race. He doesn’t really like the wet so I am hoping the track dries out. The two-year-old Super Ex, which will go around in the 1200 metre Maiden against his own age, goes okay.
"His recent Warwick Farm trial was full of merit and I will put the blinkers on him for the first time on Saturday. The barrier may be a worry but he will probably race midfield,” Newnham said.
Robert Thompson will renew his successful association with Hall of Fame trainer John Hawkes and his family when he rides the speedy Yeas and Nays in the 900 metre Class 1 Handicap. The filly hasn’t finished out of a place in her five race starts.
At Wyong on June 29 the three-year-old broke through for her first win. Yeas and Nays has speed to burn and the short course is ideal. The filly should hold the lead from the barrier.