INTERNATIONAL Group 1 winning mare Ortensia looms as a knockout hope in today's $1 million Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
The seven-year-old has won at the top level in Australia, Dubai and England, and trainer Paul Messara said he believed the mare was well weighted with 56.5kg given her record.
Messara said Ortensia appeared to have recovered from her Oakleigh Plate failure behind Mrs Onassis on February 23 when she was forced to wait in the stalls for a long time while other runners played up, and then hurt her fetlock early in the race.
The daughter of Testa Rossa worked impressively down the Flemington straight on Monday and good early speed in the race should suit her perfectly.
Dwayne Dunn has picked up the ride after regular jockey Craig Williams agreed to pilot Queensland colt Better Than Ready on the expectation Ortensia would head to Sydney after her Oakleigh Plate disappointment.
The mare was listed at $14 with Tattsbet yesterday.
After winning the race in 2011 with Wanted and last year with Black Caviar, trainer Peter Moody will saddle up the $2.80 favourite Moment Of Change.
The four-year-old resumed with a slashing second to Black Caviar in the Lightning Stakes on February 16, his case supported by the fact seven of the past eight winners have run in the Lightning as their lead-up race.
Others well in the market include West Australians Barakey and Luckygray, although statisics suggest they have their work cut out.
Both gallopers are resuming from a spell and history shows the last horse to win the Newmarket first up was Polycrates in 1917.
While history is against Barakey and Luckygray, it suggests Better Than Ready has a great chance.
Victory would see the Queenslander join the likes of Placid Ark, Schillaci and Weekend Hussler among the 10 three-year-olds to have won the Newmarket in the past 30 years.
Pitchforked into the event with just 50.5kgs, Better Than Ready was well in commission on Wednesday at $5.50 with Tattsbet fixed odds.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.