Libertini (Image: Bradley Photos)
Trainer Anthony Cummings has little doubt that Saturday's Newmarket Handicap will be won by a three-year-old and he's starting to suspect he might train it.
Libertini may have missed a place for the first time in her career as an odds-on favourite against fellow fillies first-up in Sydney last month, but Cummings said on Wednesday that an improved filly will go to the gates for the famous run down the 1200-metre straight course.
"I think there was enough merit in her first-up run and enough improvement since to come here and be hard to beat," he said on Wednesday of Libertini.
"It looks like a replay of the Coolmore in the spring. If only we can get a different result."
The trifecta from last spring's Coolmore Stud Stakes again lines up in the open-age race on Saturday and while Cummings has respect for the first two colts home - Exceedance and Bivouac - he said his filly only needs to find a length to challenge them both.
"The three-year-olds have had the wood on the older horses all season and I can't see why it would change on Saturday so they (three-year-olds) are the ones to beat," Cummings said.
WATCH: Last year's Coolmore Stud Stakes
The market has installed a trio of three-year-olds as equal favourites for the race with Bivouac, Exceedance and Manikato Stakes-winning filly Loving Gaby all marked at $5. Black Caviar Lightning winner Gytrash is next at $7.50 ahead of Libertini and Tasmanian galloper The Inevitable at $9.
Cummings said a gallop at home last weekend proved to him that the Newmarket was worth pursuing for the filly that is part-owned by Gerry Harvey and John Singleton.
"Her gallop here last Saturday before she left was very good and it gave us the heart to come down and take on this race," he said.
"Then she did a nice piece of work down the straight yesterday and Jye (McNeil) was impressed with her.
"She reminded herself of what the straight looked like and she'll be ready to take it on this weekend."
McNeil, who is yet to ride for Cummings, is one of Victorian racing's big movers over the past few years and the 25-year-old now sits fourth this season on the Melbourne jockeys' premiership on 33 wins - just 10 behind the leader Craig Williams.
Libertini was beaten into fourth placing at her first-up run in the Light Fingers Stakes at Randwick on February 15 but Cummings said things did not pan out for his fresh filly.
"I think the way the track played on the day, you had to be on speed," he said. "From the wide gate where she settled, it was going to be tough to win from and that was proven to be the case.
"She came home in the same sectionals as the winner but from a place where it didn't matter."