Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra with Zoutori

Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra with Zoutori (Image: Racing Photos)

Zoutori takes Newmarket Handicap

It was a race that the fillies were supposed to dominate but by the finish, it was the experienced straight-course sprinter Zoutori who grabbed his first Group 1 victory in Saturday's 148th Newmarket Handicap.

Racing down Flemington's famous 1200-metre straight course for the ninth time in his career, Zoutori lunged and beat Perth visitor Indian Pacific in a thrilling finish, where none of the favoured runners could feature.

It was worth noting that Zoutori ($20) was one of four horses to come up the inside section of the track, with three of them filling the trifecta (Indian Pacific second at $21 and Amish Boy third at $81) and the other, Prophet's Thumb, finishing sixth. 

Jockey Craig Williams said of the 10th-placed September Run ($2.80 fav): "She wasn't beaten far but she didn't get a smooth run throughout.

"She was inconvenienced with her run from the 400 (metres) to the winning post and didn't get the favours we were hoping to get.

"It was a completely different race for her and a disappointing result because she had been coming on so well. I guess today when you have a big field and things don't work out, when you get squeezed and jammed, and a horse with that level of experience, and with that weight, they're big factors."

Second favourite Swats That ($7.50) ran fifth, with jockey Jye McNeil saying the filly was just a few lengths off the level.

Zoutori joined a small group of gallopers that have been able to win a Newmarket with the topweight.

Co-trainer Mat Ellerton said: "I don't get too nervous pre-race day, but I was a little bit toey today. Things have gone to plan with him from the Oakleigh Plate and he's really come on well."

He said it had always been an ambition to one day win the race: "It's on our doorstep (Flemington). It's a time-honoured sprint and we're just chuffed to win the race."

The victory was another triumph for jockey Luke Currie, who has now ridden four G1 winners since his comeback last spring from a fractured vertebrae.

"Off the back of having a fall last year and having quite some time off, I was lucky enough to pick up a couple of good ones over the spring," he said.

"I had a bit of a rest over the spring. I didn't ride too much, which has helped the body, and it's been a great autumn so far. Hopefully there's a couple more in us yet."

Brad Parnham, who rode the runner-up, was fined $400 for using his whip in consecutive strides prior to the 100-metre mark.

"I was super proud of his effort," Parnham said. "He rolled along quick in front. I felt like I had them chasing me, but he just got done in the end. It was a good effort."