Hunter syndicators Australian Bloodstock believe the early pace in the Cameron Handicap (1500 metres) will decide their chances of winning with Special Reward on Friday.
And the speed on paper could dictate if they have two hopes in the group 3 race.
Australian Bloodstock sponsor the Cameron Handicap, which had the Kris Lees-trained Special Reward as an equal $3.60 favourite alongside defending champion Rock with TAB Fixed Odds on Thursday.
Stablemate Chief Ironside, another wearing the Australian Bloodstock colours, was a $23 shot but he was also a chance of running instead at Randwick on Saturday in the group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m).
Like many, Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell was keenly waiting on news of moves from other dual acceptors in the two races, especially front-runner Quackerjack. Trainer Mark Newnham told Racing NSW the decision on Quackerjack would likely be made at the last minute.
"We've just got to work out where he's going," Murrell said of Chief Ironside.
"I wanted to wait and see what Quackerjack was doing. I was happy to go the other way to him, because there would be less pressure up on speed."
Lees said later on Thursday that Chief Ironside would likely run at Newcastle.
Special Reward is chasing the Newcastle Newmarket-Cameron Handicap double after claiming the group 3 over 1400m in March.
The Epsom Handicap hope has since resumed with a close third in the Show County (1200m) when racing outside the leader and a fourth in the group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) last Saturday when held up for a run after sitting behind the pacesetter.
"I think how much pressure gets served up to Special Reward early will determine his fate," Murrell said.
Central Coast-based jockey Tim Clark will team up with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott in the Cameron with Just Thinkin'.
Group 1 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."
Just Thinkin' was $6.50 with TAB. The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained dual acceptor The Candy Man was the other tight runner in the market at $4.80.
Peter Snowden told Sky Racing on Thursday that The Candy Man would head to Newcastle on Friday.
The Australian Bloodstock-Lees combination also have favourite Mugatoo ($2.20), Big Duke ($23), Attention Run ($18) and Aliferous ($16) in the Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m).
Murrell believed Mugatoo was "ridiculously short" in the market.
"There are a few horses there in career-best form, and then you've got to give all those horses weight and you're a distance doubt," he said. "I think that's a big worry.
"As a betting person, I would rather back Attention Run each way.
"I thought she was the best one, that she could roll across and track Hush Writer and be a really good chance at big odds. If she runs to her best, she could win. She's got a really good record over this trip and we're hoping that's what she's been looking for."
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