Imagine Mark Newnham’s initial thoughts when he took a phone call out of the blue last year asking if he would train “a duck”! Turns out the horse’s name was in fact A Duck – and he is certainly well named being a son of American stallion Pluck.
Now a three-year-old, A Duck is ready to make his debut for his new trainer at Hawkesbury on Monday in the A&T Seafoods 3YO Maiden Handicap (1000m). Not only is A Duck interestingly named, but his rider Koby Jennings will carry a set of famous racing colours; lime green and black diagonal stripes.
Left: Mark Newnham - his stable's horses are firing at present. Image by - Steve Hart Photographics
Those same colours were carried by Tommy Smith’s 1970s champion Imagele, who won 11 of his 20 starts including the AJC Derby, Rosehill Guineas and Canterbury Guineas, but unfortunately fell in the 1973 Golden Slipper when a 9-4 on favorite.
“I must admit I wasn’t sure when one of this horse’s owners rang me and asked if I would train A Duck until it was explained to me that was his name,” Newnham said today. “I have had him in work for about three months, and he’s ready to go to the races.”
A Duck has raced only once (when trained by Danny Williams) and started a $1.50 hotpot when fifth in a Wagga 2YO Maiden Plate (1000m) on January 7 last year. He had easily won a 900m Canberra barrier trial nine days earlier.
Newnham, who is making a tremendous fist of his new training career, has reported to Racing NSW stewards that A Duck resumes racing after having bone chips removed last year.
“We simply call him ‘Duck’ around the stables, and I’ve had no trouble with him at all since putting him into work,” Newnham said. “He has trialled well and is fit and ready to go. “I’m sure he will be very competitive.” Jennings partnered him when third to Magic Missile in a 3YO Maiden trial over 797m on soft ground at Warwick Farm on February 20.
Newnham also prepares yesterday’s Warwick Farm trial winner Lazyaxl (an older half-brother to A Duck and already a four-times winner in Victoria) for the same connections. He is understandably delighted with the way his career has blossomed since taking out his training licence nearly 12 months ago, and will have his first Golden Slipper Stakes runner (Skyline Stakes winner Diamond Tathagata) tomorrow week.
“We’re having a great run at present, and hopefully we can keep the momentum going,” he said. Newnham has 25 horses in work at Warwick Farm with another 20 yearlings already on the books, and has applied to the Australian Turf Club for boxes to be vacated at Randwick by Michael Freedman when he relocates to Hong Kong.
“If I am successful in getting those stables, I will also keep my current set-up at Warwick Farm and train out of both,” he explained. “To be competitive in Sydney, you need to have at least 40 to 50 horses in work all the time.”
Newnham’s other Hawkesbury representative on Monday is Omiya (Christian Reith) in the Tassal Salmon Maiden Plate (1500m). He has blinkers back on. Dual acceptor Rispetta won’t oppose A Duck instead contesting the KB Foods Maiden Plate (1100m). Jay Ford has the mount.
Hawkesbury trainers clearly have the numbers in the Priestley’s Gourmet Delights Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1100m). They have all but three of the 13 runners (there are already two scratchings), with Broadmeadow’s Kris Lees (Orodoro, Brenton Avdulla) and Wyong’s Allan Kehoe (Zioptimus, Grant Buckley and Zaze, apprentice James Innes Jnr) the only “invaders”.
Of the locals, Brooke Somers has Phenomena (Paul King) and Star Bolt (Andrew Banks), whilst Hawkesbury’s leading trainer Scott Singleton has Base Camp (Jess Taylor) as well as Garry Frazer (Identic, Corey Brown), Tommy Wong (Sunnic King, Chris O’Brien), Noel Mayfield-Smith (Sun And Heir, Jay Ford), Luke Hilton (Run At Me, Anthony Cavallo), Garry White (Perfect Heritage, Jason Collett), Jason Attard (Elusive Filly, Jeff Penza) and Mitch Newman (Miss Fortuitous, apprentice Brock Ryan).
Tye Angland, who currently leads the Hawkesbury jockeys’ premiership with nine wins this season, has six mounts – all for different trainers - at Monday’s fixture, which coincides with the Adelaide Cup program. His bookings are Lady Moochi (trainer Jason Coyle), Fight For Glory (Kim Waugh), Not To Be Caught (Chris Waller), Cash Strapped (Gary Portelli), Credible Witness (John Sargent) and Superbee (John Thompson).
The rail is in the TRUE position & the track this morning was rated a Soft 6, with a penetrometer reading of 5.14.
SELECTIONS RACE 1: ARTEMIS ROSE, A Duck, Japhite. RACE 2: IDENTIC, Orodoro, Base Camp. RACE 3: HASHTAG HERO, Spring Creek Star, Lady Moochi. RACE 4: HESSDALEN, Naughty Thoughts, Classic Records. RACE 5: CLEESE, Emoclew, Sacamano.. RACE 6: LADY SANSA, Stylish Lad, Vega. RACE 7: SPRINGER, A Good Yank, Aviator. RACE 8: SUPERBEE, Forreel, Tumultuous. SPECIALS: SUPERBEE, IDENTIC, HESSDALEN