By Ray Hickson
In-form trainer Mark Newnham is considering keeping most of his stable stars in Sydney for the spring to chase the prizemoney on offer in his own back yard.
Group 1 winner Nakeeta Jane is back in work just as Australian Oaks runner-up Scarlet Dream has a short break while Newnham is looking to back up Quackerjack at Rosehill on Saturday before setting his sights on the Villiers at the end of the year.
The Sydney spring received a funding boost last week with the announcement of several new races to support the big ticket features the $14m TAB Everest and $7.5m Golden Eagle.
“Nakeeta Jane is already a Group 1 winner so we don’t need to go chasing that with her,’’ Newnham said.
“I’ll enter her for everything, more than likely the early part of the spring will be towards the Epsom and then we’ll make a decision on the Golden Eagle or Melbourne.
“We’re going to have a lot of horses in for a busy spring with the amount of prizemoney on offer.
"A horse like Quackerjack might be the last man standing by the Villiers.’’
Newnham said Quackerjack bounced through his popular all the way win over 1600m at Randwick last Saturday and will step up in distance into a Benchmark 88 over 1800m at Rosehill this weekend.
He’s posted two wins and two placings since being gelded and will require a break to be ready for the stiffer tests on offer in the new season after Saturday’s race.
“He’s a good tough horse, he ate well and went out for a canter (Monday) morning. He was his normal self and there’s nothing for a month for him.
“He can have a month off and probably resume in November. If his form warrants it he can go towards the Villiers.’’
Quackerjack hasn’t been tried beyond a mile as yet and, despite his handy record at the Randwick 1600m, it’s often said you need a 2000m horse to win one of the big feature miles.
So it’s an opportunity to test out the stamina reserves, something Newnham believes is a box he can tick.
“He was still strong on the line on Saturday, he’s got around on a pretty heavy track with top weight and made all the running,’’ he said.
Quackerjack's all the way win at Randwick last Saturday
“I think he could have gone another furlong and they wouldn’t have caught him.
“I wouldn’t think it is beyond him and if he’s going into a Villiers with a couple of runs under his belt and a bit fresher than some of them he’d be a realistic chance.’’
As far as Scarlet Dream is concerned Newnham is in a bit of a pickle with where to place her, given he was hoping she would end her three-year-old season by winning the Queensland Derby, and he’s wary that many of the top staying fillies of the past couple of seasons haven’t measured up in the Melbourne spring.
He said the fact a horse like of Youngstar hasn’t won a race since her Queensland Oaks win is playing on his mind when it comes to whether to put her on a Cups campaign or target a race like The Metropolitan.