Joe Pride will be disappointed with anything other than victory from Neeson in Wednesday’s $150,000 Cameron Handicap at Newcastle.
“He’ll win,” Pride said.
Neeson is the $3.20 favourite for the 1500m Group Three with new jockey Hugh Bowman tipped to adopt aggressive tactics on the stakes-winning galloper.
Although Neeson is yet to post a victory in three starts since returning from a long lay-off, Pride says the sprinter is primed.
“With respect to the opposition, I don’t think it’s a very good field and I would just be disappointed if he didn’t win,” Pride said.
“With the opinion I’ve got of this horse I would just be really disappointed if he didn’t win.”
Neeson, winner of the Group Three Tramway Handicap (1400m) last year, returned from a 44-week break and finished fourth to stablemate Rain Affair in the Group Three Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on August 6.
He then ran third in the Listed Show County Quality (1200m) on August 20 before a last start fourth in the Tramway (1400m) on September 3.
Neeson was given the limit weight (52kg) when handicaps for the Group One Epsom (1600m) were released on Monday and the gelding is likely to head that way after the Cameron.
The winner of the Cameron Handicap, which has a final field of 13, is exempt from ballot for the Epsom on October 1.
Last start winner Raspberries is the $5 second favourite in Cameron Handicap betting ahead of country sprinter Izababe at $8.
Wednesday’s program also features the Group Three Spring Stakes (1500m) for three-year-olds with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Just The Tonic favourite to continue the unbeaten start to his career.
In a congested market, Just The Tonic ($2.80) shades the Paul Messara-trained Rekindled Alliance ($3.20) with stakeswinners Ambidexter and Darci Be Good also well in contention at $4.20.
Ambidexter, a full-brother to Group One winner Skilled, took out the Listed Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) last start and has been easily the best-backed runner with TAB Sportsbet, firming from $5.50.