Craig Williams has drawn comparisons between Japonisme and last year’s Newmarket Handicap winner.
And that gives the star jockey the belief the three-year-old is a genuine hope of providing him with his first success in the famous Flemington sprint on Saturday.
Trainer Chris Waller won the 2015 with three-year-old Brazen Beau who had won the Coolmore Stud Stakes during the 2014 spring and then went into the Newmarket second-up after a Lightning Stakes placing.
Japonisme won this season’s Coolmore and finished a close third in last month’s Lightning, won by Newmarket favourite Chautauqua, in his first run from a spell.
Williams said Japonisme reminded him of Brazen Beau.
“It’s the same type of preparation by Chris Waller,” he said.
“I was able to partner Japonisme on Tuesday morning down the straight in a piece of work and I felt that he had very similar mentality to Brazen Beau, so I’m really looking forward to the ride.
“He is weighted half a kilo more than Brazen Beau when successful last year, so obviously the handicapper thinks a lot of him because we know how good Brazen Beau was.
“And his (Japonisme’s) performances down the straight have been excellent.”
Brazen Beau upstaged a star-studded field, including Chautauqua, with Hong Kong-based jockey Joao Moreira aboard.
Williams had ridden Brazen Beau in the 2015 Lightning and in trackwork leading into the race.
“So it gives me a good indication for what type of horse, or how they’ve got to be going to go into the race,” he said.
Chautauqua is at $2.40 with Waller-trained sprinters occupying the next three lines of betting with Japonisme at $4.20, Counterattack at $9.50 and Delectation at $10.
Japonisme meets Chautauqua 2.5kg better from the Lightning Stakes encounter.
But Williams feels Chautauqua is still weighted well.
“I think 58 (kilos) for a horse that’s done what he’s done, I think they’d be very happy with his weight,” Williams said.