Newcastle Recap - November 18, 2023

Brenton Le Grand looks back on the ten-race program at Newcastle and brings you the talking points of the undercard.

LEKVARTE. Picture: Steve Hart

Erno's Cube too strong in the Max Lees 

Race experience came to the fore in the two-year-old Max Lees Classic with Erno's Cube ($6) powering away from them to win by two and a quarter lengths in a dominant display. 

The Godolphin pair of Efharisto (2nd - $5.50) and Gram (3rd - $3.70) filled the minor placings with a head between them on the line.

After a somewhat disappointing performance on debut in the Gimcrack Stakes, the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-prepared filly showed remarkable improvement and may be looking for a trip up north in the coming weeks. 

Stable representative Johann Gerard-Dubord explained the daughter of Rubick had come on since that first time at the races.

"Physically and mentally she has strengthened up quite a bit, she has relaxed a lot more," Gerard-Dubord said. 

"She's a Magic Millions filly, all going well if she pulls up well we're working towards that. 

"There's the Calaway Gal in three weeks' time in Queensland which is an option." 

Hoop Jason Collett believed having a hit-out since the failure first-up had assisted his mount. 

"She had that trial in between the disappointing run there in the Gimcrack, so just had to change things," Collett said. 

"She did things right in the trial and was able to replicate that today." 

Rematch wins the Highway by the barest

The Paul Messara and Leah Gavranich-conditioned Rematch ($3.70F) just got the bob in on the line to take out the Highway by a nose over Sharp Shock ($10). Devocean ($26) and Magic Pharoah ($61) shared the honours for third dead-heating a further half length back.

Bringing up a race-to-race double for jockey Nash Rawiller, the Real Impact progeny went forward from his wide draw and was able to hold off all challengers down the Newcastle straight. 

Co-trainer Messara was grateful for Rawiller's mid-race nous. 

"I know he was the lay of the day, everyone potted him," Messara said. 

"He jumped so well and Nash took the ride into his own hands.

"You can't over direct any of these top jockeys, just tell them about the horse and let them do what they want to do." 

Despite winning by the narrowest of margins, Rawiller was confident on the line. 

"I felt we got there, but it was close. It can be deceiving sometimes but he just got his momentum right again the last three hops," Rawiller said. 

"I loved the way he picked himself up and found the line." 

Belle Of The Turf beckons for Lekvarte

The Joe Pride-trained Lekvarte ($4.80) showed she is set for a prosperous preparation resuming in fine fashion to take out the NZB F&M Benchmark 78 Handicap. 

The five-year-old sustained a long run to overhaul Zoe's Promise ($8.50) by a neck with Chase My Crown ($16) three quarters of a length back in third place. 

Pride was pleased with how his mare had returned to the races and believes there are bigger fish to fry later in the campaign. 

"We are aiming at the race at Gosford, the Belle Of The Turf late in December," Pride said. 

"Probably give her at least one more run, possibly two before then.

"She's a big gross mare and will take good improvement." 

Winning rider Josh Parr explained he had to get going early to negate the slow early tempo.

"I made a long run on her, I needed to be in the race," Parr said. 

"As it turned out her turn of foot was really good and immediate, so I got there too soon. 

"But she was tough, got her ears back late and really toughed it out which was a nice sign from her." 

Quote of the day: "I'm glad Nash listened to absolutely nothing I said pre-race. I thought we'd be out the back storming home but we led." - Co-trainer Paul Messara after Nash Rawiller ignored his riding instructions to salute on Rematch.