CHAMPION jockey Craig Newitt is returning to Tasmania, marking a new chapter in his riding career.
CHAMPION jockey Craig Newitt opens a new chapter in his riding career in Hobart today after ending a 15-year stint of riding against the best in the nation and overseas.
Newitt’s decision to return to his home state to live is a huge bonus for Tasmanian thoroughbred racing as he returns with 35 Group 1 victories to his credit from over 1700 winners accrued mainly in Victoria but spread as far ashore as Royal Ascot in the UK where he won at Group 1 level.
The talented rider and his wife and four children relocate to Devonport this week and Newitt will be hoping to make his mark at Elwick with seven rides on the eight-event card.
The first race has been reduced by two early scratchings leaving a small field of four and Newitt’s mount is the likely favourite Bidirectional from the Adam Trinder stable.
Bidirectional is racing well out of his class in the benchmark 82 Handicap over 2100 metres but with the top weight, Sly Romance, scratched it leaves an even field of which Bidirectional is the top-rated at 68.
The six-year-old gelding has had only one start in Hobart for an impressive win over 1600 metres, albeit 18 months ago, but he also is a winner over the trip in Launceston on a soft 5-rated track.
Newitt’s other mounts are considered good each-way hopes and four are for reigning premier trainer Scott Brunton.
Box of Frogs (race 6) and Farewell Angelina (race 7) ap- pear the best of the quartet although there is the unknown factor to consider with Going Purple that his first start for Brunton in a 1200-metre maiden (race 2).
Going Purple has been kept safe in the market at $4.40 with Sportsbet fixed odds after as much as $4.80 was offered, however stablemate Flikpix is favourite at $2.40 but she also is nominated for Launceston on Wednesday night.
With the past eight meetings having been held on the synthetic track at Devonport there is no recent form to guide punters so it could come down to punters pinning their hopes in the reputations of the jockeys and or trainers.
The best backed of Brunton’s runners is Love Magic, which is top weight in the benchmark 72 Handicap (race 5) and he has firmed from his opening quote of $11 to $4.40.
The five-year-old gelding comes off a win in Launceston over 1220 metres on July 2 and he races best when fresh. finished second with a luck.
“Everything went to plan today and he ran really dominantly.”
Lindsay Park quinellaed the race with Samovare, the subject of a $34,000 bet with TAB, before finishing more than three lengths behind her stablemate.
The Naturalism was Jameka’s Cup springboard last year and TAB quickly underscored the authority of Harlem’s victory by halving his odds to $13 for the Cup.
Dwayne Dunn enjoyed a trouble-free run before sweeping past Stampede, revelling in a victory for some of the Kangaroo Island-based connections in Stampede.
“There was a little bit of speed early and he probably didn’t relax for me until the top of the hill and then he settled down beautifully,” he said.
“Noel Callow (Samovare) moved out of my way threewide to make a run and I was able to follow through.
“He’s just a typical import – he’ll keep getting better.”
Twice a winner over 2400m in Europe, Harlem was fourth in the 2016 Prix Kergorlay – the race used by Americain and Protectionist en route to Melbourne Cup triumphs – at his last run before travelling to Australia.
“It probably took a little while to acclimatise, didn’t get the right runs in transit a couple of times,” Dunn said.
“Today worked out perfectly and he gives the impression he’ll be better over further.” little
HOMECOMING: Craig Newitt will ride seven races at Elwick today, marking his return to Tasmania.