By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham didn’t want to throw unbeaten three-year-old Academy into the deep end too quickly so is pleased he’s struck a race at Rosehill on Saturday where essentially the entire field is dipping its toes in deeper water.
The race in question is the Group 3 $160,000 Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m), a race where no horse has had more than five starts and only one of the 11 acceptors is a maiden.
Academy, with wins at Warwick Farm and Kembla Grange, is a horse Newnham has a high opinion of but he also said that’s unlikely to change if he is defeated for the first time.
“It’s a funny sort of race because they are all sitting at a similar level, they all look promising but we’ll know which one is the most promising when we’re finished,’’ he said.
“He’s a good class horse. I think his best will be a mile to 2000m and I think if he’s not up to this grade yet he will be in the future.
Academy wins at Kembla Grange on August 3
“He has good, above average, ability but how deep we go into the spring will be a run by run basis.’’
Academy, $7.50 with TAB, hasn’t raced since August 3 so Newnham sent the gelding back to the trials for a bit of extra polish.
Newnham is one trainer that isn’t concerned about the forecast of a soft to heavy track and while barrier one may not be ideal by that stage of the day it’s jockey Tim Clark’s problem.
“I was going a month between runs, it’s hard to do without a trial in between,’’ he said.
“He was still a bit wayward at Kembla so for fitness and experience it was a good day out for him.
“We have an in-form fit horse, who has shown he can handle wet ground, we’ve got an in-form jockey and he’s worth a try in this grade.’’
Black Magnum has the opposite barrier issue to his stablemate but Newnham said an outside alley isn’t the worst thing, especially given his penchant for wet ground.
The gelding was sent back to the trials after his failure at Rosehill three weeks ago but Newnham has put a line through that and says it’s no pointer to his chances in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1100m).
On that occasion he raced wide up on the pace and was unable to find the front before dropping right out to finish last behind Prime Candidate.
“The other day was a nightmare from the jump but he’s back to his favourite distance, he’s more likely going to get track conditions to suit and he has enough gate speed to get into a decent position,’’ he said.
Black Magnum, $8.50 with TAB on Thursday, was a dominant winner on a heavy 8 track at Warwick Farm first-up and repeated the dose at Canterbury on a soft 5 on July 24.