Newmarket gamble with Halvorsen

Halvorsen will attempt to add to his Flemington straight record in the Newmarket Handicap.

HALVORSEN. Picture: Steve Hart

Robbie Griffiths knows what it takes to win one of the toughest sprint races in Australia and is hoping to win a second, but this time with training partner Mathew de Kock. 

Griffiths and de Kock have Halvorsen lining up in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday. 

The straight 1200m race, under handicap conditions, is an extremely tough race to win, although some champions of the Australian turf have been successful. 

First run in 1874, winners have included Wakeful (1901), Gothic (1927-28), Aurie's Star (1937), Ajax (1938), Century (1973), Maybe Mahal (1978), Placid Ark (1987), Schillaci (1992), Exceed And Excel (2004), Takeover Target (2006), Weekend Hussler (2008), Black Caviar (2011), Hay List (2012) and Redkirk Warrior (2017-18). 

Griffiths took the race with The Quarterback in 2016, his sole victory at Group 1 level. 

De Kock has only been associated with the training of Halvorsen since late 2020 which has resulted in a change of training mindset from the duo this campaign. 

Having gone winless in a seven-run campaign that started in January 2021 and ended in July, Halvorsen has won twice and placed once in three runs on the Flemington straight course this campaign. 

Halvorsen enters Saturday's race off a last start win in the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) - his second – in January with Griffiths and de Kock spacing the sprinters races. 

"In the two years that I've been with the stable he's in the best form that I've seen," de Kock said. 

"He's really doing his best at the moment, and I think he's a place chance on the weekend. 

"We're confident going into the race that he's going to run his best race. 

"We've gone a different route this campaign. 

"We've spaced his runs this time and as an older horse he probably doesn't take his runs together too well and the weight drop is going to be a big help." 


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