By Ray Hickson
Over the past few years trainer Mark Newnham has developed a knack for bringing a filly quickly through the grades to be a force in an Oaks and that’s the trajectory he hopes promising filly Harmony Rose is on.
It’s not a new revelation, Newnham did flag at the end of Harmony Rose’s first preparation in the spring he had designs on the Australian Oaks so there’s a level of expectation for her return in the TAB Handicap (1400m) at Kensington on Wednesday.
She’s currently a $26 chance in TAB’s Australian Oaks market and Newnham would be disappointed if she’s not very competitive first-up.
“I thought she would run very well, her trial was good, I’d say she’s made good physical improvement from her first prep,’’ Newnham said.
“She has a good racing style, she’s able to take up a position.
“The area she needed to improve was mentally more than physically, she can be a bit hot, but she seems more relaxed and catching up.”
Newnham’s Oaks record reads seconds with Greysful Glamour (VRC Oaks) and Scarlet Dream (ATC Oaks), a third with Quintessa in the 2020 ATC Oaks and Miravalle’s fourth in the VRC Oaks last spring.
Harmony Rose, $4.60 with TAB on Tuesday, won her first two starts at Kembla and Gosford before Newnham stepped her out in town for the first time and she was a gallant second to Sagacious over a mile at Warwick Farm.
If she gets to the Oaks on Day 2 of The Star Championships on April 10 it’ll likely be a low key build up akin to what he’s done with Scarlet Dream, who Newnham likens Harmony Rose to.
“I put her away with this prep in mind to get towards the Oaks so I have a good enough opinion of her,’’ he said.
“How we get there is yet to be determined but it could be the Kembla Classic followed by the Vinery or the Adrian Knox.
“Provided she runs up to what I think she will I’d say we will remain on that path.
“She fits the same sort of profile as a Scarlet Dream, she had a very similar preparation, and she managed to run second to Verry Elleegant.”
Ex-Queensland sprinter Marway created a good impression at his Sydney debut with a gutsy win on Australia Day at Warwick Farm and Newnham can’t see why he won’t give a big sight in the Street Boss @ Darley Handicap (1000m).
He does have a small concern that barrier two might not be an advantage come race six but other than that the five-year-old hasn’t gone backwards.
“I probably would have preferred a slight step up in trip but he drew the outside on Friday night at 1100m so that’s why I’ve come to this race,’’ he said.
Harmony Rose wins a trial at Randwick on February 5
“He’s improved a bit since the other day, hopefully that is the right part of the track by the time we get to his race.”
And the fingers are crossed that consistent gelding Nearly Fine can break through in the Vinery Stud Handicap (1400m) after taking his record to six placings from seven starts at Kensington two weeks ago.
Tom Sherry’s 2kg claim aids Nearly Fine’s cause as he’ll drop 1.5kg on that placing to Wheelhouse and The Denzel over the same course.
“He’s nearly a winner, that’s about him. He’s consistent and will win a race soon, when that is I’m not sure,’’ Newnham said.
“He’ll keep running a good race until he wins one.”