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Standish penalty a concern for McCarthy

Caulfield trainer Brendan McCarthy doesn’t get too many opportunities to have a live chance in a race at stakes level.

McCarthy has the $2.60 favourite Divine Mr Artie engaged in the Group Three Standish Handicap at Flemington but the trainer may risk the chance of a rare feature race win and keep the gelding at home on Sunday.

He is concerned about the penalty Divine Mr Artie may pay if he wins Sunday’s 1200m sprint.

Divine Mr Artie and his 10 opponents all carry the same weight of 58kg after the original topweight in the race wasn’t among acceptances.

With the remaining nominated horses all on 54kg, weights were raised 4kg when final fields came through on Thursday.

A new policy is likely to be introduced early in the new year to allow horses to be re-handicapped in similar circumstances, but for now it’s too late for Divine Mr Artie.

“The biggest problem I can see going forward is if he wins the race he’ll get heavily penalised,” McCarthy said.

“If we beat a 98 rater on the same weight being an 81 rater, the starting point will be 98 and a further penalty on top of that for it being a Group Three race.

“That would just persecute us for the future.

“What I’m looking at is what is best for the horse.

“It’s not that I don’t think the horse can win the race. The horse is going really well. It’s going in against horses at level weights that isn’t preferable.”

Had the race been able to be re-handicapped Divine Mr Artie would carry 4kg less than topweights Lord Aspen and Thermal Current.

Divine Mr Artie returned from a spell with a three-length win over Sunday’s course and distance on December 10 and McCarthy immediately pencilled in a Standish Handicap run.

“The horse loves the straight and is going exceptionally well,” McCarthy said.

“He’s improved on what he’s been like in the past and he’s been terribly stiff in some of past racing.

“I haven’t got a lot of horses and it would be a shame not to run in a Group Three race, especially with a horse that is a $2.60 favourite.

“But he’s not a big horse and it would persecute him for the future.”

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