By Ray Hickson
Mark Newnham has done plenty of talking this week about his triple attack on Saturday’s Group 1 $500,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).
That’s no surprise when you have a pair of proven Group 1 fillies in Nakeeta Jane and Greysful Glamour and the emerging talent of Scarlet Dream on your team.
He’s talked a possible diversion to the Australian Derby, against the boys, for one of them and the uncertainty of what conditions will prevail at Rosehill.
So how does Newnham prepare for a race where he has three different sets of owners all hoping their filly can claim the Group 1 feature?
“I think you can only be honest in your assessment of each horse,’’ Newnham said.
“It doesn't seem to worry Chris Waller with his multiple runners. I've prepared them all as well as I can for the race.
“They all have difference racing styles, it's a matter of having them fit and well and may the best horse win.’’
It does seem on paper that Newnham has all the bases covered.
Grey filly Greysful Glamour ($71), runner-up after leading in the VRC Oaks, is a natural front-runner and Newnham has already forecast she’ll be leading the Vinery.
Nakeeta Jane ($6) is the most versatile of the trio while Scarlet Dream ($14) is a backmarker and she could be the big firmer for the Australian Oaks (2400m) if she continues her rise.
Newnham doesn’t subscribe to the theory that a good horse will handle any track conditions and is preparing himself for a wet track on Saturday.
He said Scarlet Dream will have no concerns but the other pair haven’t been exposed to wet tracks under suitable race conditions and those are very different to the early hours of the morning at trackwork.
“We've seen very good horses in the past not go on wet tracks, if they don't handle it they don't handle it,’’ he said.
“It'd be nice to say we could all be Winx and handle any type of ground. I think Nakeeta Jane will handle it but I won't know until she goes on it.
“Conditions on the day may favour one over the other. Scarlet Dream has established form on soft ground.
“It was heavy on Monday morning, Josh (Parr) said Nakeeta Jane was quite comfortable on it and that's a better indication than not but it's not race conditions.’’
Nakeeta Jane posted the Group 1 win everyone thought she had in her second-up in the Surround Stakes then Newnham backed her up in the Randwick Guineas and she finished a game third behind The Autumn Sun.
Newnham said there was plenty of merit in her performance, where Punter’s Intelligence data says she ran the third fastest last 600m of 34.56 after doing plenty of chasing.
“It just ended up a really messy race with the tearaway in it,’’ he said.
“It put her in a position between the 800m and 400m where she had to drag them forward. It wasn't ideal but she ran really well.’’
One thing Newnham knows about Greysful Glamour, the outsider of his trio, is that she doesn’t like confined space in her races so now she’s out to 2000m he finally has the chance to see how well she’s racing this autumn.
The grey ran a battling 10th in the Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) third-up.
Scarlet Dream runs third in the Kembla Grange Classic on March 15
“She's never performed well when she's been cluttered up,’’ he said.
“Her wins have been on big tracks when she's led or got to the outside. Up in distance in a race where she looks to be able to control it will see the best of her.
“She's worked well enough to run well but we need to see it on race day.’’
And Scarlet Dream has Oaks written all over her if you ask most judges and Newnham certainly is one of those.
She ran third at Kembla Grange in her first exposure to Group company and clocked the fastest last 600m of the race of 35.19 (Punter’s Intelligence).
“She's always been very strong at the end of each of her run, she's the one filly that will be suited at a mile and a half,’’ he said.
If Newnham has a view of which of the fillies might take on the boys in the Derby he’s keeping it close to his chest but says the issue will address itself in how they perform on Saturday.
“It's a great year to have a crack,’’ he said.
“If you look at the depth of form in the Vinery compared to the depth of last week's Rosehill Guineas it's an indication that the Oaks will be a stronger race than the Derby.’’