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 Australian Racing News 
Tuesday, February 28 2017

Sydney trainer Bryce Heys said he expected Spieth to be set a task when weights were released for the Gr.1 Newmarket Handicap but Racing Victoria's handicapper David Hegan says the weight shouldn't stop him.

RV issued the weights for Australia's greatest sprint handicap on Tuesday and Spieth was allocated a 55kg impost, 3kg below the topweight Chautauqua, 1.5kg under Lightning Stakes winner Terravista, half a kilo more than last year's Newmarket Handicap winner The Quarterback and 2.5 and 3kg more than three-year-olds Flying Artie (52.5kg), Extreme Choice (52.5kg) and Star Turn (52kg).

The main cause for Heys' angst is Spieth, although finishing luckless seconds in his past two-year starts at Group I weight-for-age level, has only once won in black-type grade – the Listed City Tattersall's Lightning Handicap at Randwick in October last year.

"I knew what I was in for," Heys told Sky Racing. "I'm not happy about it but I don't want to be seen as complaining or moaning.

"The profile of the horse that he's the worst weighted horse in the race I don't care what anyone says.

"You've got to take the emotion, people's opinion out of what they think he coulda, shoulda, woulda done.

"It's a two-edged sword. He's commercial in terms of what he could be worth being a colt, we tried to have a throw at the stumps and got him ready on two occasions to get a big blue riband next to his name but came up short and obviously we've paid a penalty now.

"I knew they would hammer me."

Heys used Illustrious Lad as a yardstick to push his point. The Peter Gelagotis-trained galloper finished three-quarters of a length behind Spieth when fifth in the Lightning Stakes at weight-for-age last start.

"I mean a horse like Illustrious Lad was inside a length of the pack that crossed the line there last start in the Lightning," he said.

"He's won a Group II race and a Listed race and three starts ago we were struggling to get a run in a Listed race on the limit at Randwick."

Hegan conceded Spieth "was easily the most difficult horse to weight in the race" but it is his job when handicapping the entries for the Newmarket Handicap to "to give everyone their best chance" in the race.

Hegan used the historical precedents of weights issued to Buffering in 2012 and Chautauqua in 2015 when deciding on Spieth's weight for Saturday week's $1.25 million sprint.

Like Spieth, Buffering (54.5kg) had placed in the Patinack Farm (Darley) Classic and Lightning Stakes leading up to the race while Chautauqua (55.5kg) had placed in the Darley Classic and won the Rubiton Stakes, a Group II weight-for-age race.

Both horses we're already multiple Group II winners and finished second in the Newmarket Handicap of that year.

"Between the two I've taken the middle ground and gone 55 kilos," Hegan said.

"Now measuring that with Terravista, he doesn't need more than 1.5 kilos to beat Terravista and he can't be giving the three-year-olds in the race, who are weighted up previously to the mark of Coolmore winners that generally come in at around 52 kilos. He's beaten them at weight-for-age.

"We've got Flying Artie in there who's met him at weight-for-age, Star Turn who's in there getting three kilos off him in that race and Extreme Choice who's beaten the older horses but didn't quite measure up to Star Turn and Flying Artie in the Lightning (sic Coolmore).

"We move down to The Quarterback who's won a Group I handicap on the minimum. The Quarterback has had numerous starts since at Group I level and hasn't even placed.

"Head to head verses Spieth, Spieth's rattled past him at Group I level and so you could argue here how does The Quarterback only get half a kilo off Spieth.

"I can't have him lower because he's too close to horses that he's beaten at weight-for-age in terms of Shiedel, Fell Swoop who's a triple Group I weight-for-age placed horse, The Quarterback who he's beaten at weight-for-age.

"To go lower, it deems those horses then at weight-for-age and we've got to remember Group I weight-for-age form supersedes handicap form.

"He's twice started at Group I weight-for-age level, been beaten in a photo both times when held up in the run.

"At Group I level there's no conviction about him at all.

"The weight for mine isn't the issue that's stopping him."

Heys said his main focus now in the lead up to the race is "whether we can win the race or not".

"Time honoured races have historical precents. Some people say it's a load of crap, some people don't," he said.

"I've got a couple of people assessing the race for me.

"It's going to take a career peak performance to win a Newmarket in my opinion with those weights and I don't want to run him in a Newmarket to run a good race and run second, third or fourth.

"That being the case, it's a big decision.

"Otherwise we maybe go down for the William Reid or just wait for the TJ (Smith) I suppose.

"All I'm worried about at the minute is the colt and he's in A-one order so long may that continue. That will probably lean us towards running."

Spieth's weight hasn't fazed bookmakers and the four-year-old entire remains the $4.40 favourite for the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 11

Posted by: AAP AT 11:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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