By Ray Hickson
She may be the Australian Oaks favourite but Mark Newnham is confident Nakeeta Jane is sharp enough to notch a Group 1 win second-up at Randwick on Saturday.
The fact remains Nakeeta Jane hasn’t raced beyond a mile in her brief career to date so Newnham said while the Oaks is a target there’s no reason the Group 1 $500,000 Surround Stakes (1400m) can’t be a target too.
“It’s not her ultimate goal but it is a Group 1, she is going in as fit and well as she could be at that distance,’’ he said.
“We might not get that far in trip to an Oaks distance, if you have a Group 1 on this Saturday and you’re not fully prepared you’re not doing your job.’’
Nakeeta Jane surprised a few with her turn of foot as she picked up Madam Rouge to claim the Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) first-up and Newnham admits to how she won being a little unexpected.
“I did say to Josh (Parr) on the day I was happy with the way she paraded, at home she looked like she’d filled out but when you saw her against the other fillies she looked bigger and stronger,’’ he said.
“I said one of two things will happen - she’ll need further and she’ll run home and run a good fifth or she could blow them away. I’m glad he chose option two.
“You could tell after she jumped so well and travelled in a forward position she’d be hard to hold out.’’
Parr is chasing back-to-back wins in the Surround after guiding Shoals to victory last year in its first running as a Group 1.
Nakeeta Jane opened $5.50 with TAB in a wide market and Newnham was pleased with her work alongside stablemate Greysful Glamour ($61) at Warwick Farm earlier this week.
While Nakeeta Jane is obviously top seed Newnham said Greysful Glamour’s effort in the Light Fingers, first-up since the Victorian Oaks, was a hidden run.
Although she’s an outsider on Saturday, the grey is a $15 chance in the Australian Oaks.
“Outside Nakeeta Jane I thought Greysful Glamour went above expectations only beaten two and a half lengths and sitting wide all the way,’’ Newnham said.
“(Nakeeta Jane and Pohutukawa) were the two runs of the race and I’m probably biased but I thought the third best run was Greyfsul Glamour.
“There were plenty of fillies that didn’t beat her home or only finished alongside that had easier runs.’’
Greysful Glamour ran a respectable 33.48 for her last 600m (Punters Intelligence) considering she covered almost 5m more than the winner and at a trip far short of her best.
Newnham said he expects Greysful Glamour to come into her own when she reaches the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) on March 15.
Nakeeta Jane wins the Light Fingers Stakes at Randwick on February 16
Promising filly Super Oasis jumps from a maiden defeat on debut to the Group 2 $200,000 Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m) and Newnham is confident she won’t be outclassed.
The youngster, out of a half-sister to English, produced a sizzling 33.27 last 600m in her unlucky second behind Skyline runner Sun Patch and Newnham saw no reason to deviate from his plan.
“It has been my plan all along to run in the maiden, hopefully win it, then run into this race,’’ he said.
“She didn’t win it but an ounce of luck and she probably would have so I think there wasn’t any need to change the plan because she wasn’t disappointing in any way.’’
Super Oasis was a $6 chance with TAB in an open Sweet Embrace on Wednesday and Newnham believes the filly has plenty of scope for improvement given she’d had just one trial prior to her debut.
“It’s a good race for her, she’s trained on really well,’’ he said.
“Whether it is this preparation or next, at three, who knows but she has a good pedigree and even if she was to be placed that would help her down the track.’’