The Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup kicks off a big weekend of racing on Friday as 15 stayers step out in the $250,000 feature.
Mugatoo won this race last year before going on to win the All-Star Mile during the autumn, and leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will be hoping his lightly-raced gelding Luncies can follow in his footsteps as the short-priced favourite.
Criminal Code looks to be the best of Chris Waller’s four chances, while impressive Wyong Cup winner Berdibek is hoping to claim his hat-trick for John O’Shea.
For thoughts on every runner in this year’s Newcastle Gold Cup field, be sure to read our preview below!
It’s been over a year since Dashing Willoughby found the winner’s circle and he looks tough to entertain in a race of this quality.
The six-year-old battled home only fairly for ninth in the Wyong Cup in his first run under Chris Waller and would need to improve significantly to be a factor here.
Quick Thinker strips fitter for two runs back and looks capable of improving on his last start fifth in the Premier Cup at Kembla Grange.
The Formsan-trained Quick Thinker went straight to the front and established a dominant lead, right before being gunned down with less than 100m to spare.
He’s won over longer distances than this in the past and will likely give the others something to catch again.
Berdibek is shooting for his hat-trick on Friday following two impressive wins in the Listed Rowley Mile and the Wyong Cup.
The old boy has gone to another level this time in work, and he couldn’t have been more impressive last time out coming from well back at the turn to gap his rivals by nearly two lengths.
He won’t want the track too wet, but the way he’s racing of late makes him hard to fault.
Taikomochi has failed to return the same form that saw him win the Premier’s Cup Prelude and the Kingston Town Stakes at Randwick by impressive margins,
The old boy has finished well down the straight among easier company this prep and will only find this tougher.
Laure Me In
Laure Me In recorded a gutsy win two back in the Premier’s Cup Prelude and is worth forgiving on his last start fifth in the Wyong Cup.
Matthew Dunn’s seven-year-old copped a bit of a bump coming out of the gate, but still managed to make up decent ground despite the wide position.
His wet track form reads well for this, and so too does the fact he’s won at Newcastle previously.
Harpo Marx is chasing his hat-trick following a narrow win in the Premier’s Cup three weeks ago at Kemba Grange.
The son of Galileo has been up for a while, but he’s done well to hold his form to score three wins from six starts.
He’s another one with strong wet track form and has drawn to get another lovely run off the speed from barrier 4.
It’s been a long time in between drinks for Hush Writer, but he does look capable of maybe scoring an upset in his first run back from a spell.
The Waterhouse and Bott-trained seven-year-old tends to do his best work fresh, while he also contested some tougher races than this during the autumn.
Could be worth an each-way ticket at a big price.
Sweet Thomas is having his second run back from a freshen-up after finishing off fairly for sixth in the Wyong Cup.
The old boy has been a very consistent customer over the last six months, winning three runs back at Rosehill over 3200m prior to running second to The Good Fight in the Flemington Cup.
He was no match in this race last year, but does love racing on rain-affected tracks.
Having run no worse than fourth in his last five starts, Criminal Code’s recent form reads well for this.
The son of Maschino finished a clear second to Berdibek in the Wyong Cup a fortnight ago where he came from well back after getting away awkwardly, a run that suggested he’ll handle the step up in trip.
With some decent wet track form to his name, he looks a genuine contender.
No Compromise was a narrow winner at Rosehill in a Benchmark 78 two runs back and was far from disgraced when sixth last time out in the Premier’s Cup.
He had plenty of work to do that day after an awkward start but still made up plenty of ground in the finish. Another one that loves a wet track and is worth including in exotics.
The Kris Lees-trained Luncies appears to be working towards another win after finishing just two lengths off Harpo Marx in the Premier’s Cup.
He tends to do his best work with a couple of runs under his belt and should be saving his best for last with next to no weight on his back.
Great House has turned in two average performances since resuming in much easier company.
Will only find this tougher.
Torrens won his last start at Randwick by nearly four lengths, albeit against much easier opposition.
He does have some wet track form, but looks likely to struggle at this level.
Master Shuhood battled home well to run fourth two runs back in the Wyong Cup, but he failed to go on with it stepping down in grade last Saturday at Kembla Grange.
He has ran well previously on the short backup but is likely to find this tougher.
Oakfield Missile possesses a big finish, but his last two starts in weaker company make him very tough to entertain.