Nature Strip’s absence from the Newmarket Handicap means weights have been raised, giving Andrew Mallyon the chance to reunite with Halvorsen.
Now based in Queensland, Mallyon hasbeen in Melbourne to ride Halvorsen in five of his seven victories, the past two on the straight course at Flemington where the Group One Newmarket Handicap is run on Saturday.
With Nature Strip out, weights need to be raised 1kg at acceptance time on Wednesday taking Halvorsen’s weight for the 1200m sprint to 53kg.
Trainer Robbie Griffiths is chasing a second Newmarket Handicap victory after The Quarterback gave him his solitary win at the highest level in 2016.
A last-start seventh in the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 22 gives Griffiths confidence Halvorsen is set run run a big race on Saturday.
“It was an enormous run,” Griffiths said.
“I had regrets standing at the races with the way the track was playing because I wished I had run him in the Lightning the week before.
“But the performance was first class.
“To think in the early stages of the event he gave 16 lengths away to Pippie and she didn’t stop.
“To then run her to 2.85 lengths was enormous and I thought it was a really good trial for the Newmarket.”
Griffiths said Halvorsen felt the effects of the Oakleigh Plate with the gelding a little stiff the following morning.
But the trainer said Halvorsen had quickly recovered and had not missed a days work.
“He didn’t puff too much after the race, so I don’t think he needs too much,” Griffiths said.
“He did run through the summer and the form around him has been great through Gytrash.
“I don’t think anybody could be unhappy as his run at Caulfield was the best by far for a Newmarket trial.”
Halvorsen ran a close second to Gytrash over 1000m at Flemington in June with only 0.5kg between the pair while on Saturday he will have a 4kg advantage.
Gytrash secured his first Group One win in the Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 15.