Craig Newitt will be reunited with The Quarterback when they chase back-to-back Newmarket Handicaps but trainer Robbie Griffiths admits the sprinter has a task ahead to defy history.
The Quarterback heads to Saturday’s Newmarket first-up after he missed his lead-up run in the Lightning Stakes because of a scary incident in the barriers when he became cast in his stall.
He was not seriously hurt but had to go back to the trials last week to get his barrier certificate after the incident.
“He passed his barrier ticket last Monday when he trialled and did everything right,” Griffiths said.
“He got out the back and ran on for fifth on the bit. The ground was a bit chopped up so we didn’t knock him around.
“He had a gallop on Tuesday morning in preparation for the Newmarket and he’ll rock up there in good order.
“It’s just a question of whether he can re-write the history books.”
With The Quarterback’s 54.5kg below the range of Matthew Allen, last year’s winning rider Newitt has been booked.
Polycrates in 1917 is the most recent horse to win the Newmarket first-up while Black Heart Bart ran second last year.
Griffiths admits The Quarterback will be going in as an underdog.
“History says you can’t do it so the odds are really stacked against us and it’s a really good Newmarket this year. There’s a lot of depth in it with the youth,” Griffiths said.
“But it is what it is. We’re lucky to have a horse after the Lightning fiasco at the barriers.
“Thanks to those fantastic barrier attendants we’ve got a horse and we’ll line up on Saturday.”
The trainer said The Quarterback slipped and lost his footing after rearing in the barriers.
“Once he was on the ground he panicked and it was chaos then,” he said.
“So we were very lucky he didn’t hurt himself seriously.”
He said the sprinter suffered abrasions and some back soreness.
“The physio and acupuncturist and vets have been working on that and are happy with him,” he said.
“So I think he’ll rock up in good order next week it’s just a question of whether he can match it at that level effectively first-up.”