Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign (Image: Racing Photos)
A bunch of quality three-year-olds threaten to continue the strong record of their age group in Saturday's Newmarket Handicap, but last season's Golden Slipper Stakes winner She Will Reign will not be among those contending for the $750,000 first prize.
Trainer Gary Portelli said on Monday that he felt the Newmarket down the Flemington straight might not be the most suitable race for the filly, who ran a first-up 10th in the Oakleigh Plate after getting to near last in the race before running on strongly to be beaten just 2.5 lengths.
"I just don't think it's the right race for her," Portelli said. "We've got other options and I don't want to knock her around before I have to.
"It's just a gut feeling to keep her at home and you've got to go with your gut."
WATCH: She Will Reign's Oakleigh Plate effort
Portelli said the change of plan will now see She Will Reign come to Melbourne a week or so later as she is now being targeted at the Group 1 William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley on March 23.
She Will Reign showed a liking for Moonee Valley last spring when a first-up winner of the 1000-metre G1 Moir Stakes.
"We'll go to the William Reid and then work out where we go to go from there," Portelli said.
"If she ran well then she'll go to the T.J. (Smith) a couple of weeks later, but if we felt she needed to come back to her own grade there is the Arrowfield (Sprint for three-year-olds a week later."
The Newmarket favourite is last spring's Coolmore Stud Stakes winning colt Merchant Navy, who will be joined in the race by highly-regarded three-year-old fillies Booker and Catchy.
Since Alinghi became the last filly to win the race in 2005 when she led home a trifecta of three-year-olds (Fastnet Rock 2nd and Foreplay 3rd), three-year-olds have enjoyed a strong hand in the race.
Three-year-old winners since then include Weekend Hussler (2008), Wanted (2010), Shamexpress (2013) and Brazen Beau (2015).
Final acceptances for the Newmarket and Australian Cup are taken on Tuesday morning with barrier draws to follow.