Halvorsen hunting third win in Standish Handicap

12 January 2023 Written by Racing & Sports

Halvorsen looking to set new record in time-honoured Flemington summer feature.

The Griffiths & De Kock trained sprinter Halvorsen is aiming to become the first horse ever to win the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) three times at Flemington on Saturday.

A winner of the Standish Handicap (1200m) in 2020, which was his third win in as many starts down the straight that preparation, he would miss the 2021 edition through injury before returning to win the 2022 edition.

Halvorsen is the definition of a Flemington specialist, with five of his nine career wins coming at the track, and remarkably, since his first win down the straight in November 2019, he's never tasted success elsewhere.

No horse in history has ever won three Standish Handicap's, with the race dating back to 1884, with Super Impressive (03/05), Grandoise (89/91), Rooney (78/80) Ungar (50/51) David's Last (45/46), Manrico (39/41) Blue Cross (20/21) Berry Consols (12/13) Miss Bobby (07/08) all winning two.

Robbie Griffiths, who trains in partnership with Matthew De Kock, is confident a return to Halvorsen's favoured Flemington surface will be key as he looks to bounce back from a poor run at Sandown last start.

"His Flemington first up run was really good, he was average at Sandown, but he was very fresh, he'd had an interruption to the campaign," Griffiths said.

Blake Shinn will replace 2020 Standish winning jockey Andrew Mallyon in the saddle, and the stable are confident they have Halvorsen back on track.

"Matt (De Kock) was pleased with his gallop Monday morning as was Reid Balfour who rides him so we're hoping that a turnaround in a better preparation into Flemington being a Standish winner twice before, all equals a return to form," Griffiths said.

Despite being a two-time winner of the race, Halvorsen will not carry top weight in Saturday's edition, with Group 1 winner Western Empire set to return for John Leek Jr, having previously raced under the care of Danny O'Brien.

The rest of the field appears quite even on paper, with just one horse (Vespertine) a last start winner, having taken out the Listed MSS Security Sprint (1200m) at Flemington in November.

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