Craig Newitt believes he has a colt to again salute at Group 1 level on Blue Diamond Stakes Day when he pilots Lofty Strike in the Oakleigh Plate at Sandown Lakeside.
The man nicknamed ‘Froggy’ won the Blue Diamond Stakes with Samaready in 2012 and Extreme Choice in 2016.
And he thinks Lofty Strike – a $10 chance with online bookmakers – will live up to his name.
The three-year-old appears primed to continue his winning ways for trainer Julius Sandhu after a brilliant first-up victory in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes on February 11.
Lofty Strike displayed an incredible late turn of foot to triumph after he was up the back of the field entering the final furlong.
“He’ll go really good. He had his final hit-out (on Tuesday morning) in preparation for it,” Newitt told HorseBetting.com.au.
“I feel he’s come on from the run. He’s improved fitness-wise and he’ll run a great race.”
Newitt said it was likely the same strategy from the Rubiton Stakes triumph would be used on Saturday.
“He’ll be buried away and he’ll be mid to back,” he said.
“He’ll rely on a little bit of luck, but it’s a big, long straight so he’ll get his chance to run on.
“His form reads as good as anyone’s in the race.
“We know where he’s at and he’ll run good.”
2023 Rubiton Stakes – Lofty Strike (1st)
Newitt said Lofty Strike – with three wins from six starts – has the opportunity to make a strong statement that he belongs at Group 1 level in the Oakleigh Plate.
A start in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap over 1200m at Flemington awaits him on March 11.
“Hopefully he’ll get the job done here, and then he’ll head to the Newmarket – win, lose or draw,” the star hoop said.
“And Julius will try to trot a path with him. But hopefully he’ll get that Group 1 on his resume this week.
“That will cement himself at stud, and then he’s just got to pick his path where to go with him.”
Newitt said Chain Of Lightning – a $7 winning chance for Peter Moody who finished third behind Lofty Strike in the Rubiton Stakes – would offer good competition on Saturday.
“Chain Of Lightning finished behind him the other day without a lot of luck,” he said.
“There’s a stack of chances in the race. It’ll come down to what fits the best run and who turns up on the day.”
Newitt will also ride $51 outsider Cigar Flick for Chris Waller in the $2 million Blue Diamond Stakes on Saturday.
The two-year-old filly finished fifth in the Blue Diamond Prelude (Fillies) – less than two lengths behind winner Exploring for James Cummings on February 11.
And she came fourth – three lengths behind emerging star Learning To Fly – in the Widden Stakes on January 28.
2023 Oakleigh Plate final field