10/16/2002 12:00AM

Northerly heads Caulfield Cup

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Northerly will attempt to carry highweight of 128 pounds to victory in the 1 1/2-mile, $1 million Caulfield Cup Handicap at Caulfield Racecourse in Australia on Saturday.

A 6-year-old Australian-bred gelding trained by Fred Kersley, Northerly will be seeking his fourth consecutive victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup, which starts the countdown to the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on Nov. 6.

But Northerly, who defeated the brilliant mare Sunline in last year's Cox Plate and has taken the one-mile Group 1 Underwood Stakes and the 1 1/4-mile, Group 2 Turnbull Stakes in his last two starts, is a question mark at 12 furlongs. If he fails to stay the trip, the prize could go to Helene Vitality, who was second to Nayef in the Dubai Sheema Classic, or Fields of Omagh, who was third in the Turnbull but picks up 10 pounds from Northerly in this race.

Godolphin has shipped Beekeeper, a lightly raced Rainbow Quest 4-year-old, to run Down Under. A two-time winner going 1 1/2 miles at the allowance and handicap levels in England, he faces a tough task carrying 117 pounds but has drawn advantageously in gate 6 in the field of 18.