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Won't Be A Holiday For Phuket At Newcastle

Gary Harley

Successful Group One trainer Allan Denham is certain that his decision to withdraw his classy three-year-old Phuket from Wednesday's Canterbury Park meeting to run at Newcastle on Thursday is the right one.

Phuket, a brilliant first-up winner at Hawkesbury, will start in the final event at Newcastle a 1200m Benchmark 65 Handicap. The gelding has 59kg with Josh Parr retaining the ride.

Phuket only had four opponents first-up, but he led all the way and won by more than two lengths unextended. Parr was most impressed and he predicted a bright future for the three-year-old.

Denham moved from Rosehill to Wyong many years back and the astute trainer who prepared Group 1 stars such as Melbourne Cup runner-up Yippyio, Eremein and Spark Of Life has a big opinion of Phuket.

“This horse is the son of a super sire and he has displayed above average ability from the time I put him into work.

"A long-time client John Thompson owns Phuket with his family and others. He has only had five starts and he came from last to win a Hawkesbury Maiden in November.

"Before I spelled him, he was beaten two lengths by smart horses at Rosehill. Phuket led at Hawkesbury first-up, but I don’t want him to lead on Thursday, I want to teach him to race off the pace. He was an emergency at Canterbury on Wednesday but I believe he needs another run before going to the city. If he runs well at Newcastle, a mid weeker, in town is next.” Denham said.

Newcastle trained three-year-old Plaisir can confirm his trainer David Atkins’s high opinion of the sprinter when he lines up in the 1350 metre Class 2 Handicap at Newcastle on Thursday. Plaisir came from near last to win first-up at Newcastle on May 27 over 1200 metres. The extra 150 metres on Thursday is ideal.

Atkins does not hide his admiration for Plaisir which he claims could be the best horse in his stable: “I believe this horse will get to 1600m in time and potentially he is the best horse in the stable,” Atkins said after his last start Newcastle win.

Robert Thompson and Atkins reunite on Thursday and it will be the first time the champion jockey has ridden Plaisir since he was aboard the three-year-old in a Wyong trial before he had his first start. Thompson rode Reckless Tradition to win the 1986 Moonee Valley Cup for Atkins and the pair tasted Group success with top sprinter Moss Rocket in Melbourne.

Godolphin filly Witches will appreciate the spacious Newcastle track when she attempts to atone for recent luckless efforts at Gosford. The three-year-old will contest the 1350 metre Class 2 Handicap with Brenton Avdulla in the saddle. Witches was stopped in her tracks when making what appeared a winning run at Gosford on May 11. Last start on June 1 the filly went down narrowly.

View the final fields with full form & race replays for Newcastle here

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