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6/3/2020 History Says - Newmarket Handicap
Photo: Bivouac


This season's three-year-olds are being hailed as one of the best crops in years, so it's no shock to see them dominate betting on Saturday's Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.

Bivouac, Exceedance and Loving Gaby are duking it out for favouritism in BetEasy's market on the $1.25 million Group 1, while Libertini was installed a $9.50 chance following the finalisation of the field.

The 1200-metre event hasn't been great to favourites of late - Hay List ($3.80, 2012) the most recent to win - but it has been for three-year-olds. Horses of that vintage have won 46 of the 146 editions, making it the most successful age group in the history of Australia's most prestigious sprint race.

This year's set, which also includes Banquo ($26), have taken different routes to get there.

Exceedance is resuming, an approach that failed to generate a victory between Polycrates' first-up win in 1917 and Redkirk Warrior in 2017. Form Focus reveals that, in the past 25 years, 43 horses have resumed in the Newmarket with only four seconds and a third placing to go with Redkirk Warrior's win.

Winning the Newmarket off a Sydney lead-up, as Libertini is striving to do, is also rare with All Our Mob (1995), Belle Du Jour (2003) and Exceed And Excel (2004) the only ones to have done that since 1985.

Bivouac plots a much more successful path, having resumed with a sixth placing in the Oakleigh Plate. That 1100-metre event has produced 12 of the past 35 Newmarket winners. Yet, it is not the most prolific lead-up.

Ten of the past 35 winners had their final lead-up in the Lightning, including six of the past nine, while an additional eight ran in the Lightning - which until 2010 was run in late January/early February - before contesting another lead-up race.

So, more often than not since 1985, the Newmarket winner has come through the Lightning.

That's the race Sunlight finished third in last year before becoming the 17th three-year-old filly to win the Newmarket. Loving Gaby finished third in this year's Lightning.

Fifteen of those 18 Newmarket winners to come through the Lightning filled a quinella slot in the 1000-metre WFA race, including 11 who won both races, taking to 14 the number who have completed the double.

That double has been attempted 47 times for another five seconds and eight thirds.

Gytrash will this year look to become No.15 under 57kg after weights were raised 1kg at acceptance time on Wednesday. Shaftesbury Avenue (58kg, 1991) and All Our Mob (56kg, 1995) were the only horses to carry at least 56kg to victory between 1985 and 2005, but it has happened eight times since.

Four of the six who won with sub-56kg since 2006 were three-year-olds, suggesting if an older horse is to win it will be one up in the weights.

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