Trainer James Cummings reckons Group One-winning colt Bivouac has something to prove in the time-honoured Newmarket Handicap at Flemington and is ready to do it.
Bivouac is one of the favourites for Saturday’s Group One Newmarket (1200m) in which four of the top six in the market are three-year-olds.
The winner of the Golden Rose (1400m) at Group One level against his own age last spring, Bivouac was a luckless sixth in the Group One Manikato Stakes (1200m) at weight-for-age in October, won by Newmarket rival Loving Gaby.
He was then overhauled by Exceedance in a thrilling Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington in early November.
Bivouac, Exceedance and Loving Gaby clash in the Newmarket in a field of 13 and occupy the top three places in betting with the colts equal $5 favourites just ahead of the filly ($5.50).
Bivouac started favourite in the Group One Oakleigh Plate (1100m) in his return at Caulfield on February 22 but finished sixth against the older horses after settling back and having to come wide.
Cummings hopes Bivouac will settle closer in Saturday’s straight-track sprint.
“This is the premier handicap sprint in the country. After the Oakleigh Plate he’s got a bit to prove,” Cummings said.
“His work on Tuesday had some electricity about it.
“He’s coiled up, tuned up, wound up and ready to show what a brilliant colt he is.”
Exceedance and Bivouac clashed four times last spring, with Bivouac winning the Run To The Rose and Golden Rose while Exceedance got the better of him in the San Domenico and Group One Coolmore.
Exceedance runs for the first time in 2020 on Saturday, with Redkirk Warrior (2017) the only horse in the past 100 years to win the Newmarket first-up from a spell.
Eight three-year-olds in the past 20 years have won the Newmarket, most recently Sunlight last year and Brazen Beau in 2015, with both those sprinters also winning the Coolmore Stud Stakes the previous spring.