Hush Writer denied local trainer Kris Lees a coveted Newcastle Cup win 12 months ago and the Tulloch Lodge stayer could again prove his nemesis.
Lees has never won his hometown Cup but arguably gets his best opportunity on Friday with four runners, including dominant favourite Mugatoo.
Hush Writer is considered his biggest threat and jockey Tim Clark, who piloted the gelding to victory last year, is confident he can become the first horse since Duo in 1965-66 to go back-to-back.
A solid third to Paths Of Glory when he resumed in the Wyong Cup, Clark says Hush Writer will strip much fitter and is showing signs of maturity this campaign.
“He will be better for it and he’s thriving in his work. I’m so pleased with how he has progressed and more importantly, just his mental side,” Clark said.
“He has always been a horse that gets himself a bit worked up, a bit hot and buzzy, but he has been really chilled out this time so hopefully he can keep that going.”
Clark will also team with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott in the Cameron Handicap (1500m) when he rides Just Thinkin’.
Group One placed behind Sydney’s best three-year-olds in the Spring Champion Stakes last year, Just Thinkin’ missed the autumn but bounced back to winning form at Randwick last start.
“He’s stepping up in grade but it looks a logical target for him after his win last start,” Clark said.
“He will put himself right up on speed and they will have a job to get past him.”
Trainer John Thompson will chase his third Tibbie Stakes win in the past four years when he saddles up Into The Abyss and Best Stone in the fillies and mares feature.
He said the biggest pointer to his chances was Nash Rawiller, who wasn’t planning on riding at Newcastle until he jumped aboard Into The Abyss at trackwork on Tuesday.
After she produced a superb piece of work, Rawiller changed his mind and committed to riding her at Newcastle.
The top jockey’s only other mount at the meeting is the Lees-trained Special Reward, the early favourite for the Cameron Handicap.