Redkirk Warrior lunged late to grab Brave Smash and Merchant Navy (both inside fence) in the Newmarket (Image: Racing Photos)
Regan Bayliss celebrated his 21st birthday in incredible style as Redkirk Warrior gave him a third career Group 1 victory with back-to-back wins in the Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
A year after he ended a century of hoodoo to win the nation's premier sprint handicap first-up, the Lindsay Park-trained speedster became the first horse since Razor Sharp (1982-83) to win consecutive editions of the $1.25million feature.
The 15-horse field split shortly after the barriers opened and Bayliss opted to plot a path down the outside on the 57.5kg top weight, in a separate division to his leading rivals Brave Smash, Merchant Navy and Rich Charm.
The seven-year-old appeared to travel comfortably on the speed and, when asked for an effort by Bayliss inside the final 400m, quickened with his customary turn of foot to steal a margin on his stand-side rivals, and narrowly getting the better of Brave Smash and Merchant Navy who battled away gamely on the inside.
"I'm just so blessed, I'm 20 years of age and I've found a horse like this so early in my career," said Bayliss, who turns 21 on Tuesday.
"This is what you dream about.
"He keeps defying history this horse, he was the first horse to win a Newmarket first-up in a hundred years and today he's won consecutive Newmarkets.
"We rolled the dice and went to the outside and he just travelled beautifully in the run.
"He was there to be beaten but good horses don't give in and he's one of them."
WATCH: Redkirk Warrior goes back-to-back in the Newmarket
In assessing the performance, a delighted David Hayes hailed the imported son of Notnowcato as potentially the best straight-track horse he's saddled up in his decorated training career, with his only defeat in four starts down the straight coming in last year's Darley Classic.
While a trip to Royal Ascot has been touted for Redkirk Warrior, Hayes was quick to defer any decision on an overseas campaign.
"I think he's the best straight horse I've had," Hayes said.
"To win with top weight in a Newmarket, he's a wonderful horse.
"He's invited to Royal Ascot, we might go there.
"But he loves Lindsay Park so much, I half don't want to travel him either.
"We'll just sleep on it and make a few decisions later."
Brave Smash went within a short-head of emulating the deeds of the great Bernborough who was the last horse to capture the Futurity Stakes-Newmarket Handicap double and both jockey Craig Williams and trainer Darren Weir were effusive in their praise of the Japanese import.
"He was extremely gallant in defeat," Williams said.
"He won his side but unfortunately he wasn't the winner."