he Newmarket Handicap might be a change in plans for Extreme Choice but trainer Mick Price insists the colt is at the top of his game to chase a third Group One win.
Extreme Choice was going to bypass the Group One sprint and run in the William Reid Stakes but Price and the colt's owners decided to send him to Saturday's $1.25 million handicap at Flemington when stablemate Flying Artie was ruled out on Tuesday.
Extreme Choice ran home for third in the Oakleigh Plate first-up and Price said the three-year-old was thriving and in "perfect" order.
"I think he's just at the top of his game for the Newmarket and I'm really looking forward to it," he said.
Eight three-year-olds have won the Newmarket in the past 20 years with Brazen Beau the most recent in 2015.
Like Brazen Beau, Extreme Choice will be ridden by Joao Moreira who was booked for Flying Artie.
"He's an outstanding colt. He can win," Price said.
"History says three-year-olds in the Newmarket, they have to be outstanding to win. But he has beaten the older horses at weight-for-age in the Moir.
"I think if we're in the right part of the race and he gets the good ride with 53 kilos, he'll be in the money."
Extreme Choice's only start down the Flemington straight course was in last year's Coolmore Stud Stakes in which he finished fifth behind Flying Artie.
Price thought that was the colt's worst run but believed there was an excuse.
"That was the only time he didn't find the line," Price said.
"I pulled a blood a couple of days later and there were a couple of markers in the blood that I wasn't happy with.
"And I just suspect that the horse went down the straight not with the full amount of energy that he could have."
Rather than the straight, Price believes the hardest part in the Newmarket is beating top older sprinters.
Price has an idea how he thinks the race can unfold for Extreme Choice from barrier 13 of 13, and is hoping he and Moreira are on the same wavelength.
With Star Turn drawn 11, Price believes Extreme Choice might be able to trail him near the pace.
"That's my plan from the stand, but I'll have this conversation with Joao Moreira," he said.
"And I think he's a jockey who goes a lot on feel."
Price hopes the field doesn't split into two divisions as he said sometimes when that happens, horses can get caught in the wrong part of the race.
By Mathew Toogood
MELBOURNE, March 9 AAP