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Spieth takes on difficult challenge
06 Mar 2017

Favourite Spieth (Thorn Park x Stella Livia) will run in Saturday’s Newmarket Handicap, but trainer Bryce Heys says “there are lots of hoops to jump through’’ for the horse to end his run of big-race bad luck.

Heys had considered bypassing the Newmarket at Flemington for the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley on March 24, concerned the sprinter was “badly handicapped’’.

“But in the context of the last 12 months and what we wanted to do with the horse, the Newmarket was always the right race,’’ he said.

“We knew what we were in for with the weight. I don’t think it (55kg) makes a lot of sense and I think it means he will have to run a career peak to win, but it’s just a hoop we’re going to have to jump through.’’

Spieth’s task was made easier on Sunday when trainer Mick Price said $7 third favourite Extreme Choice would bypass the Newmarket in favour of the Reid and it appears extremely unlikely that topweight and $11 chance Chautauqua will run.

“I don’t want to be seen to be complaining, but I think the rationale behind his weight isn’t quite right,’’ Heys said.

Spieth’s close-up second placings in the Darley Classic in the spring and in last month’s Black Caviar Lightning ensured he would receive 55kg, even though his biggest win was in Listed class and last year’s Newmarket winner The Quarterback has 54.5kg.

Heys said it had been explained to him that Newmarket weights of 55.5kg and 54.5kg given to Chautauqua and Buffering in previous years had been the template for Spieth’s 55kg.

Those horses had come though similar weight-for-age placings as Spieth, but neither was able to carry its Newmarket weight to victory.

Buffering ran second in 2012 and Chautauqua second in 2015.

“I guess that’s my point. The weights they carried was a template for our weight on Saturday, but those horses were unable to win with those weights,’’ Heys said.

The quirks of the straight also pose a threat..

“Yep, you never really know what side is best or what barrier is best, but we’re all the same in that regard,’’ Heys said.

Heys said there were pluses for Spieth.

“The horse has never really had any continuity with jockeys, but Hugh (Bowman) rode him in the Lightning and stays with him,’’ he said.

“I think that one experience will be both good for the horse and for Hugh.

“And the horse is in great order. He’s peaked for the race.’’ Herald Sun