Newitt issues Pompeii warning
By Robert Windmill aapracing
Craig Newitt warns Pompeii Ruler is capable of upstaging the race-fit horses on Saturday and becoming the first dual Liston Stakes winner since Tauto 35 years ago.
Newitt said the Australian Cup winner was surprisingly forward to resume in the Liston after he won a barrier trial on Geelong's ThoroughTrack in "first gear" on Tuesday.
"I reckon he might be a little bit more forward than we think he is," Newitt said.
"I think on Saturday he won't be too far away at all."
Pompeii Ruler only had three others to trial against but delighted Newitt with the way he relaxed back in third place for most of the 1200-metre journey.
He backed off the two leaders early but when pulled to the outside in the straight he charged home to score by three-quarters of a length from stablemate Expunge in a comparatively slow 1:13.67.
"He did everything we thought he would," Newitt said.
"He never got out of first gear and jogged to the line nicely."
Newitt has ridden Pompeii Ruler's at 10 of his 13 starts and partnered him to four of his seven wins including the Craiglee Stakes last September and the St George Stakes and Australian Cup in the autumn.
He also rode Pompeii Ruler when he was third in a three-way photo to Fields Of Omagh and El Segundo in last year's Cox Plate.
But Newitt said he was even more excited about riding the five-year-old this spring.
"He's a lot more serious horse and has learned what he needs to do," Newitt said.
"He relaxes so well this time in it is unbelievable.
"He ran 1.5 seconds slower than other trials and he was quite happy to amble in behind them whereas last time in he wanted to charge up on the bridle.
"He is doing it like a professional.
"It is very exciting."
Pompeii Ruler's primary spring target is the Cox Plate but Newitt said the entire couldn't be ruled out of the Melbourne Cup.
"The way he relaxes I think the further he goes the better he is going to get," he said.
Nash Rawiller rode Pompeii Ruler when he won first-up in last year's Liston Stakes but trainer Mick Price said winning the race again would be "a total bonus".
"I would love to see him win first-up on ability but he is not wound up to win first-up," Price said.
"Over 1400 metres at weight-for-age any sort of compromise on race fitness comes out and I think with Apache Cat and Marasco having had runs they are well ahead of him and entitled to run first and second on exposed form."
Tauto was the last horse to win the Liston twice, posting wins in 1971 and 1972, while My Peak won in split years in 1960 and 1962.
Price said Pompeii Ruler was a chance to run in the Melbourne Cup but it depended on his Cox Plate performance and how well he did in the following seven days leading up to acceptance time on Derby Day.
"He will be kept alive in it (the Melbourne Cup) until then (Derby Day)," Price said.