Halvorsen starts campaign aimed at Newmarket Handicap

Robbie Griffiths has the one solitary Group 1 win on his resume to date and would like nothing more than to double that before the Melbourne autumn carnival is completed in March. 

The Quarterback gave Griffiths his biggest thrill when successful in the 2016 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington and the trainer, who now prepares his team in partnership with Mathew de Kock, hopes to land a second win in the $1.25 million sprint on March 6. 

Halvorsen is being set for the 1200m feature and will be having his first run back following an injury enforced lay-off in the $140,000 Listed Kensington Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday. 

Griffiths is planning two starts for Halvorsen before the Newmarket with the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 13 next on the agenda. 

Halvorsen has not started since finishing seventh in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield in February. 

“He sprained his fetlock and we couldn’t get it right so he had to go to the paddock,” Griffiths told RSN927. 

“We gave him a lengthy rest and it was going to be too much of a push to get him back for the racing over summer, so we decided to wait and target the autumn. 

“As an older horse he has been relaxed in his training, but he does look a lot stronger, a lot heavier. 

“In his first trial, it was on extremely heavy ground, so we held him together out the back, so there was no guide there, but on Monday morning he was exceptionally impressive in a trial which has given us a really good feel for his return on Saturday.” 

Halvorsen has drawn barrier one, which under normal circumstance is not ideal up the straight at Flemington, but Griffiths said the sprinter was one dimensional. 

As is his pattern, Griffiths said Halvorsen will be out the back early. 

“He will improve greatly with the match practice and blowing out the cobwebs,” Griffiths said. 

“The main thing is he pleases us on Saturday, he closes strong at the end and can go ahead to the Lightning in good order.” 

Halvorsen has met with support for his return run, trimming up with TAB from $11 into $6.50. 

Unbeaten on the straight course, WA mare Fabergino holds favouritism at $3.90 ahead of Godolphin sprinter Pandemic at $4.40 with Prezado, a winner of five races over the straight 1000m course at Flemington, firming from $6 into $4.80. 

Halversen and Andrew Mallyon winning at Flemington on January 1st, 2020, picture Racing Photos