Redkirk Warrior will aim to become the first horse to win the Newmarket Handicap three times.
Redkirk Warrior is poised to chase an historic third Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
After becoming the first horse in a century to win the Newmarket first-up from a spell two years ago, Redkirk Warrior won the famous handicap again last year carrying top weight of 57.5kg after winning the Lightning Stakes three weeks earlier.
The Lindsay Park-trained gelding is one of five horses to have won the time-honoured sprint twice but no horse has won three.
The eight-year-old import has not won since last year’s Newmarket and he has been given equal top weight for Saturday of 58.5kg along with multiple Group One winner Santa Ana Lane.
Two of Redkirk Warrior’s three runs this campaign in the C F Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes have been over 1400m in a bid to secure an All-Star Mile berth.
But after he finished seventh and sixth respectively, the stable has turned its attention back to the Newmarket (1200m).
“He’s going to try to create history,” co-trainer David Hayes said.
“He’s a very good straight horse and his runs have been better than one might think because he’s been drawing bad barriers and getting back.
“Then when he drew a good barrier the other day in the Futurity he got blocked just as he was making his run. I thought it was a really good run.”
Lightning Stakes runner-up Osborne Bulls is favourite at $3.50 ahead of the Kris Lees-trained colt Graff ($6.50) who was fourth in the Lightning won by his Newmarket-bound stablemate In Her Time.
Graff has 51kg and Western Australia’s champion jockey William Pike takes the ride in a rare Melbourne appearance.
“We were looking for a good lightweight rider and I think he really fits the bill,” Lees said.
“He’s extremely successful in WA and it’s a pleasure to have him over here.”
Pike made a flying visit to ride the colt in a jump-out at Flemington on Friday and will ride in a Melbourne race for the first time since 2015 on Saturday.
Pike has won nine Group Ones in Perth and will be chasing his first winner in Melbourne.
Lightning third placegetter Sunlight won Friday’s jump-out, with Graff second, and the filly’s trainer Tony McEvoy said she had come through the hit-out beautifully in preparation for the Newmarket.