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The Newmarket Handicap, showcasing Australia’s finest sprinters

March 8, 2013

There are five Group 1 races to be run across Australia and New Zealand on Saturday, with the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington the most prestigious of the lot.

First run in 1874 when won by Maid of Avenel, it has firmly established its place as Australia’s best sprint. The Melbourne Cup for sprinters.

A quick glance at the list of winners highlights the quality of the race.

Those to have won the Newmarket include Malua (1884), the only horse to win the Oakleigh Plate-Melbourne Cup-Grand National Hurdle treble, Wakeful (1901), Heroic (1926), Gothic (1927, 1928), Aurie’s Star (1937), Ajax (1938), Bernborough (1946), Baguette (1971), Toy Show (1976), Maybe Mahal (1978), Razor Sharp (1982, 1983), Placid Ark (1987), Special (1988), Shaftesbury Avenue (1991), Schillaci (1992), All Our Mob (1995) and General Nediym (1998).

Quite the honour roll.

However, the last 10 years have been among the best years for the Newmarket Handicap, with a top class winner every year. This coincides with a period where Australian sprinters have come to be recognised as the greatest in the world.

The last 10 winners have been Belle du Jour, Exceed and Excel, Alinghi, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Weekend Hussler, Scenic Blast, Wanted, Black Caviar and Hay List. With the exception of Choisir and Starspangledbanner, that is almost a definitive list of our best sprinters over the last decade.

This year, there are only a couple of horses I could see joining that elite list of gallopers.

To read my thoughts on this year’s Newmarket Handicap, click here to go to The Roar.

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