Yulong Newmarket Handicap contenders

8 March 2024 Written by Michael Manley

The 151st running of the Group 1 Yulong Newmarket Handicap (1200m) is once again one of the highlights of the Flemington Racing Spectacular. We take a look at the contenders.

History says...

2024 will see the 151st running of the iconic straight feature handicap. The Newmarket Handicap was first conducted in 1874. In 1878, three-year-old grey filly, Lady Ellen, carried 6 stone 5 pounds (approximately 40kg). A record 38 runners contested the 1925 edition of the race, signifying it's rise to prominence. In 1930, a weight record was set when Greenline lumped 10 stone 2 pounds (approximately 64.5kg) to victory with Phar Lap's jockey Jim Pike on board.

Unbeaten wonder mare Black Caviar holds the race record of 1:07.36, a time she set while carrying a modern weight record of 58kg for a mare.

Although the Black Caviar Lightning winner hasn’t scored for six years, fourteen horses have won the Lightning Stakes-Newmarket Handicap double from 49 who have attempted it with 29 of the past 68 winners of the Newmarket, competing in the Lightning in the lead up. 53 winners of the Newmarket have come through Caulfield's feature sprint, the Oakleigh Plate, with ten capturing the spring handicap Oakleigh Plate-Newmarket Handicap double. The last being the Mick Price-trained Lankan Rupee in 2014.

More commonly known for his feats as a trainer of a record twelve Melbourne Cup winners, but also unsurprisingly, Bart Cummings leads the way training the most Newmarket Handicap winners with eight. Craig Newitt shares the riding honours of three wins in the race with some other fine jockeys Harold Badger, Athol Mulley, Harry White and Damien Oliver.

Three-year-olds have a great record in the race having won three of the past five and 11 of the past 25 runnings. Inside barriers have been to the fore in recent years with only one horse winning from a barrier wider than eight in the past nine years and that was Redkirk Warrior in 2018.


Speed Map

They are likely to build into the quick tempo as most of these horses like to take a sit. It’s likely to shape up well for Imperatriz who will go forward with The Astrologist from an outside draw and Master Fay. Bella Nipotina will be following Imperatriz wherever she goes. Buenos Noches with the blinkers on could settle closer. If the track plays to swoopers then Benedetta will be coming home out wide. The race looks set up nicely for Imperatriz.


3:05pm - Race 5 - YULONG NEWMARKET HANDICAP (1200m)

$1,500,000 - Group 1 - Handicap

Final Acceptances

TAB # Silks Last 10 Horse Barrier Age/Sex Trainer Jockey Weight
1 121x1111x1 Imperatriz 3 5YO Mare Mark Walker Opie Bosson  58kg
2 36x33315x4 Bella Nipotina 4 6YO Mare Ciaron Maher Craig Williams  55.5kg
3 x57x1382x4 Buenos Noches 9 4YO Horse Matthew Smith Blake Shinn  55.5kg
4 17x21714x3 Espiona SCR 8 5YO Mare Chris Waller Jye McNeil  54.5kg
5 0150x7527x Ruthless Dame (NZ) 2 4YO Mare Ciaron Maher Damian Lane  53.5kg
6 1x13x5131x Magic Time 12 4YO Mare Grahame Begg Michael Dee  53kg
7 062725x957 The Astrologist 14 7YO Gelding Leon & Troy Corstens Declan Bates  52.5kg
8 113x1134x4 Benedetta 11 4YO Mare Jason Warren Harry Coffey  52kg
9 423134043x It'sourtime 1 6YO Gelding Danny O'Brien Linda Meech 52kg
10 1x11 Master Fay 10 6YO Horse Chad Ormsby Dean Yendall  52kg
11 1134111219 Rey Magnerio SCR 7 4YO Gelding Robbie Griffiths & Mathew de Kock Daniel Moor  52kg
12 145x113117 Sghirripa 6 4YO Gelding Shane & Cassie Oxlade Craig Newitt  52kg
13 22x21615x0 Skew Wiff (NZ) 5 4YO Mare Mark Walker Celine Gaudray (a)  52kg
14 27x11350x6 Cylinder 13 3YO Colt James Cummings Jamie Kah  51.5kg


Trainer: Mark Walker


5YO Bay or Brown Mare

Sire: I Am Invincible

Dam: Berimbau (Shamardal (USA))

Career: 24:18-2-1

Prizemoney: $5,964,799 

Jockey: Opie Bosson

Weight: 58kg

Barrier: 3

Flemington highlights: 1st  2023 G1 Champions Sprint, 1st 2024 G1 Black Caviar Lightning

After some deliberation the world’s best sprinter will take her place in the world's best sprint Newmarket Handicap where she will try and stretch her winning sequence to seven wins in a row. The nine-time Group 1 winner will be attempting to follow in Black Caviar’s footsteps by winning the three major sprints at Flemington in succession, the VRC Sprint Classic, the Black Caviar Lightning and the Newmarket handicap. Black Caviar carried 58 kilos when she won the Newmarket Handicap in 2011 and that’s the same weight Imperatriz will carry. From barrier three she will be in the leading group throughout in a race where the early tempo may not be that quick. 

Trainer: Ciaron Maher
Bella Nipotina

Bella Nipotina

6YO Chestnut Mare

Sire: Pride Of Dubai

Dam: Bella Orfana (Star Witness)

Career: 44:7-9-11

Prizemoney: $8,044,125

Jockey: Craig Williams

Weight: 55.5kg

Barrier: 4

Flemington highlights: 2nd 2021 Inglis Dash, 3rd 2021 G1 VRC Sprint Classic, 3rd 2021 L Incognito Stakes, 3rd 2023 G1 Black Caviar Lightning, 4th 2024 G1 Black Caviar Lightning

Group 1-winning mare who is a perennial performer at this level and invariably she puts in a good run. She has yet to win a G1 down the straight but she’s run some magnificent races at this level. She was far from disgraced when coming from back in the field in the Darley Champions Sprint when beaten only two lengths. Her record boasts 27 Top 3 finishes from 44 career starts, with the majority of those at stakes level, she's an absolute model of consistency. She put in another solid effort first-up this campaign when she finished fourth in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning and will meet the winner of that race, Imperatriz, better at the weights. She’s drawn to get a good run following Imperatriz.

Trainer: Matthew Smith
Buenos Noches

Buenos Noches

4YO Bay or Brown Horse

Sire: Supido

Dam: Koi (Northern Meteor)

Career: 12:3-2-2

Prizemoney: $1,925,900

Jockey: Blake Shinn

Weight: 55.5kg

Barrier: 9

Flemington highlights: 2nd 2023 G1 Champions Sprint, 3rd 2022 G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes

He’s a straight-track specialist who looked spot on for this when he won a recent Flemington jump-out. His run where he finished second to Imperatriz in the 2023 Darley Champions Sprint gave his connections confidence they could knock off the superstar Imperatriz as he took the race up to her in the closing stages, where he finished a half-a-length off her. He will be meeting her considerably better at the weights due to the handicap conditions of the race. Forget his failure in last year’s Newmarket Handicap as he pulled up lame. Barrier nine will suit his style of racing ideally as he can build momentum down the outside.

Trainer: Chris Waller


5YO Bay Mare

Sire: Extreme Choice

Dam: Dahooil (NZ) (O'Reilly (NZ))

Career: 19:7-2-2

Prizemoney: $3,033,215



Trainer: Ciaron Maher
Ruthless Dame (NZ)

Ruthless Dame (NZ)

4YO Bay or Brown Mare

Sire: Tavistock (NZ)

Dam: Ruthless Lady (NZ) (Keeper)

Career: 12:3-2-1

Prizemoney: $1,196,875

Jockey: Damian Lane

Weight: 53.5kg

Barrier: 2

Flemington highlights: 1st 2022 G3 Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes

Although she’s a G1 winner of the Robert Sangster Stakes she’s a mare who has flown under the radar. She also finished second in the Group 1 Surround Stakes last year as a three-year-old filly. She campaigned in Sydney last spring with her best effort a second in The Invitation. She has had one start over 1200 metres at Flemington for a win at Group 2 level as a two-year-old. Ciaron Maher has a happy knack of getting things right. She’s drawn to get a nice run on the speed.

Trainer: Grahame Begg
Magic Time

Magic Time

4YO Bay Mare

Sire: Hellbent

Dam: Time Awaits (Nicconi)

Career: 8:5-0-2

Prizemoney: $1,205,775

Jockey: Michael Dee

Weight: 53kg

Barrier: 12

Flemington highlights: 1st 2022 L Springtime Stakes

Astute trainer Grahame Begg has targeted the Yulong Newmarket Handicap with his lightly raced mare Magic Time who broke through for her maiden Group 1 win when she won the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield last November. Begg has always had a big opinion of this mare who has only been beaten in three of her eight career starts, where she was unlucky on all three occasions. History isn’t on Begg’s side as when Redkirk Warrior won the Newmarket Handicap in 2017 he became the first horse since 1917 to have won the Newmarket Handicap first up from a spell. She has drawn out and will ride the speed out wide.

Trainers: Leon & Troy Corstens
The Astrologist

The Astrologist

7YO Bay Gelding

Sire: Zoustar

Dam: Aquada (Flying Spur)

Career: 42:8-6-8

Prizemoney: $2,710,464

Jockey: Declan Bates

Weight: 52.5kg

Barrier: 14

Flemington highlights: 1st 2021 L All Victorian Sprint Series Final, 1st 2021 G3 Aurie's Star Handicap, 2nd 2022 G1 Newmarket Handicap, 3rd 2021 G2 Bobbie Lewis Quality, 3rd 2022 G3 Standish Handicap, 3rd 2022 G3 Rising Fast Stakes

Globetrotting veteran who finished second in the 2022 Newmarket Handicap to Roch ‘N’ Horse at $61 after he finished seventh in the 2022 Black Caviar Lightning. He finished in the same spot this year behind Imperatriz but was beaten only 4.25 lengths compared to six lengths in 2022. He carried 52.5kg in the 2022 Newmarket Handicap when finishing second and 54.5kg last year when sixth behind In Secret. He has had three starts since returning from his successful 2023 overseas trip to Dubai and the United Kingdom. Drawing out suits his style of racing. He will look a threat at some stage.

Trainer: Jason Warren


4YO Bay or Brown Mare

Sire: Hellbent

Dam: Whatalovelyday (Domesday)

Career: 11:6-0-3

Prizemoney: $954,875

Jockey: Harry Coffey

Weight: 52kg

Barrier: 11

Flemington highlights: 1st 2023 Inglis Sprint, 3rd 2023 L Sunlight Classic, 3rd 2023 G2 Bobbie Lewis Quality

Gifted sprinting mare who was held up at key stages in the straight when she finished a first-up fourth in the Oakleigh Plate. She loves 1200m at Flemington which gives her a chance to use her powerful finishing burst. She will also be ridden by Harry Coffey who won the Oakleigh Plate on Queman. Her connections would be thrilled with her drawing wide as that will give her the chance to swoop late which is her preferred style.

Trainer: Danny O'Brien


6YO Bay Gelding

Sire: Time For War

Dam: Zedoble (Zeditave)

Career: 26:5-8-5

Prizemoney: $752,725

Jockey: Linda Meech

Weight: 52kg

Barrier: 1

Flemington highlights: 1st 2023 G3 Aurie’s Star Handicap, 1st 2023 L Straight Six, 2nd 2023 L All Victorian Sprint Final, 2nd 2022 G3 Standish Handicap, 3rd 2023 L Always Welcome Stakes, 4th 2023 G2 Bobbie Lewis Quality

Interesting project by trainer Danny O’Brien by targeting the Newmarket Handicap with his straight track specialist. He will only carry 52 kilos which will be a luxury for him. He’s jumped out well and he finished fourth in the Bobbie Lewis Quality behind top class sprinters Star Patrol and King Of Sparta, with Benedetta third in what was a fast time last year. They will look to get a smother from barrier one and then hopefully get some clear air late.

Trainer: Chad Ormsby
Master Fay

Master Fay

6YO Bay Horse

Sire: Deep Field

Dam: Keeping Score (NZ) (Keeper)

Career: 3:3-0-0

Prizemoney: $237,198

Jockey: Dean Yendall

Weight: 52kg

Barrier: 10

Flemington highlights: Yet to start at Flemington

One of the most fascinating runners to have ever contested a Newmarket Handicap as he will be having just his fourth start as a six-year-old in his third country. He was sold from Chad Ormsby’s stables after an impressive trial win to Hong Kong where he won his debut comfortably in January of 2021 at Sha Tin. He then had problems and was retired from racing and Ormsby said he would look after him. After nine months in the paddock, Ormsby put him back into work and he has won both of his starts in brilliant fashion. Intriguing runner. Probably the ideal draw for a horse only having his fourth start. Experienced jockey on board should have him some near the speed and ready to pounce if good enough.

Trainers: Robbie Griffiths & Mathew De Kock
Rey Magnerio

Rey Magnerio

4YO Brown Gelding

Sire: Magnus

Dam: Luchardo (Testa Rossa)

Career: 10:6-1-1

Prizemoney: $302,475



Trainers: Shane & Cassie Oxlade


4YO Grey/Black Gelding

Sire: Lonhro

Dam: Wonder I Do (Encosta De Lago)

Career: 15:7-2-3

Prizemoney: $522,115

Jockey: Craig Newitt

Weight: 52kg

Barrier: 6

Flemington highlights: 1st 2024 G3 Standish Handicap

The South Australian father/daughter training combination has already taken out one of Melbourne’s feature sprints when stablemate Queman won the Oakleigh Plate. In that race Sghirripa also ran a big race, powering home from last running the fastest last 400m of the day with a sectional of 22.17 seconds to finish seventh. He has had one start down the straight for a win in the Standish Handicap which followed his win in the Christmas Stakes at Caulfield. Middle draw and should position somewhere behind the lead. A big striding horse carrying 52kg could definitely be in the mix if he gets the right runs, with Craig Newitt looking to become the most successful jockey in the 151-year-old sprint's history.

Trainer: Mark Walker
Skew Wiff (NZ)

Skew Wiff (NZ)

4YO Bay Mare

Sire: Savabeel

Dam: Starvoia (Starcraft (NZ))

Career: 17: 4-5-0

Prizemoney: $561,831

Jockey: Celine Gaudray (a)

Weight: 52kg

Barrier: 5

Flemington highlights: 1st 2023 G3 Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes

Imperatriz’s lower profile stablemate who finished 13th in the Oakleigh Plate but she missed the start and settled a long way off the leaders so the run wasn’t too bad. Her best form is over 1400 metres which is often what is needed to run a strong 1200m in the Newmarket Handicap. Apprentice Celine Gaudray gets a fantastic opportunity in a feature sprint and will be following the mare's stablemate into the race and would need to be at her very best to go past her.

Trainer: James Cummings


3YO Bay Colt

Sire: Exceed And Excel

Dam: Circular (Street Cry (IRE))

Career: 12:4-3-1

Prizemoney: $2,791,740

Jockey: Jamie Kah

Weight: 51.5kg

Barrier: 13

Flemington highlights: Unplaced in two Group 1 starts at Flemington

James Cummings has had great success in the race with three-year-olds winning two of the past four editions with Bivouac in 2020 and In Secret last year. Three-year-olds have also won three of the past five editions. Cylinder was well held in the Black Caviar Lightning but has great talent as he demonstrated last spring with his second in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes in Sydney. The in-form Jamie Kah will ride him right at the bottom of the weights and has drawn the grandstand side with only The Astrologist drawn outside him.