The handicappers hold the key to Sacred Choice’s spring carnival program with trainer Joe Pride fearing she may be harshly treated when Epsom weights are released on Monday.
The reigning Doncaster winner has a terrific record over the famous Randwick mile but Pride says he has not decided whether she will run in the Epsom Handicap on October 1.
“I’m undecided about running in the Epsom at this point, genuinely undecided,” Pride said.
“The handicapper might take care of that this week. I’ve had a bit of a look through the entries and think she’s going to get a pretty big weight.
“I don’t think any mare has won the race for over 30 years. It would be hard for one high in the weights to do it, you’d think it would more than likely be one down near the bottom of the weights.
“She finished third in it last year on the limit and I doubt she’s a five kilogram better horse.”
Sacred Choice has had two starts at weight-for-age so far this preparation and will run in Saturday’s Group One George Main Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
The George Main is 100 metres shorter than usual because of its switch to Rosehill from Randwick where remedial work is being carried out in the main grandstand.
“She’ll run in the George Main. It’s not that suitable for her (being 1500m) but what do you do,” Pride said.
The Warwick Farm trainer said the release of weights combined with Sacred Choice’s George Main performance, would determine an Epsom start.
Sacred Choice has recorded victories in this year’s Group One Doncaster as well as last year’s Group Two Emancipation Stakes and Listed Aspiration Quality over the 1600 metres at Randwick.
The six-year-old also finished third to Captain Sonador and Trusting in last year’s Epsom.
The mare’s other Group One success was also over 1600m in the Myer Classic for fillies and mares at Flemington last spring.
Pride is also considering the Epsom for Neeson who will have a new rider when he runs in the Group Three Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle on Wednesday.
“He’s ready to go,” Pride said.
“He was ready to go last start but I was pretty disappointed in the ride.”
Christian Reith has ridden Neeson in all three starts this preparation but will be replaced by Hugh Bowman in the Cameron after Neeson finished fourth in the Tramway Handicap (1400m).
“We’ll be aggressive (in the Cameron),” Pride declared.
“I had a chat to Christian and told him we were going to try something different.”
Neeson is one of 23 nominations for the Cameron on the first of the two-day Newcastle Cup carnival.