Usain Bowler after winning at Flemington in December (Image: Racing Photos)
John Sadler has the lowest-rating horse in a field of 23 in what is shaping as one of the greatest Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicaps in memory this Saturday. And he couldn't be happier.
"I wanted it to be a high-class race and I wanted it to be big in numbers and we've got both," Sadler said on Wednesday. "Whether he's good enough to finish up there with him, is the only problem I suppose, but we'll find out."
You'd think the way he is talking, Sadler has the equine equivalent of Usain Bolt in his stable. But not quite. His horse is in fact Usain Bowler, who is one of just four horses in the field of 23 to have a domestic rating below 100.
He's on a rating of 78 and then you have to jump to 96 to Glenall to find the next lowest-rating horse.
But Sadler has been around long enough to know that figures don't tell the entire story in a horse race, although he concedes he hasn't seen a Seppelt Wines Newmarket like Saturday's for a long time.
"It's a great race. It really is a serious race," he said.
Sadler is not alone when he says he finds it difficult to forget Usain Bowler's December win over the Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicap course, where he came from 18th at the 400-metre mark to win the Benchmark 78.
"Realistically he's badly placed," Sadler admitted. "He was badly placed in the Oakleigh Plate and in his race but because he won so well I actually gave Greg Carpenter (Racing Victoria executive general manager racing) a ring and asked him if I would be kidding myself if I was thinking Newmarket for this horse and he said 'not on Saturday's performance' and I took a bit out of that because he doesn't get carried away."
Sadler said he is hoping for a repeat of the Flemington race of a few months ago where there was plenty of pressure, allowing his horse to sprint home.
"He's drawn out in 14 so he's going to be back and hopefully there's room for him to come down the outside," the Caulfield trainer said. "Let's hope they are falling in the lap at the 200.
"The only thing that will suit our horse is the more pressure there is, the better he'll finish off.
"He got beat the other day in the Oakleigh Plate 5.5 lengths. He came around the turn in between two horses leaning on him. He's not a tough dude. He doesn't like that.
"He hasn't done a hell of a lot wrong. If he can get within a few lengths of them, it'll tell me he's a high-class sprinter and we can give him a rest and come back and go through his classes.
"Of course, if we win the lottery, we'll have a look at what's coming up."