By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham is keen to make up for lost time with 2018 Inglis Classic winner The Enzo but admits the three-year-old has his work cut out first-up at Randwick on Saturday.
From a training a winner perspective it's in-form fillies Invictus Salute and Aim For Perfection and luckless mare Sweet Victory that carry Newnham's confidence but with The Enzo it's a case of he has to start somewhere.
Not only does The Enzo face the boom sprinter Sir Elton in the Everest Carnival Handicap (1100m) he’s returning from injury, faces a wet track for the first time and has only raced once - back in August - in the last 17 months.
On the plus side he’s been gelded and has an in-form Blake Shinn in the saddle.
“He's missed most of his three-year-old year, hopefully we can get a win before he turns four and see where he measures up,’’ Newham said.
“He had the one run then went out and when he came back into work he slipped over one morning and hurt himself and we gelded him while he was out again.
“He was getting a bit uncontrollable as a colt and he’s come back a more manageable animal.’’
The market isn’t expecting The Enzo to be a factor, he’s a $26 chance, and Newnham would say that’s fair given the layoff and the question marks.
But he’s certain he still has a horse who can win races and is hoping to leave Randwick on Saturday with something to work with.
“He’s always shown above average ability but he did take until 1200m to win and I think his best distance will be seven furlongs,’’ he said.
“They might be a bit quick for him Saturday but he has to start somewhere and I’m not sure if he will handle soft ground but we need to find out because that’s what we’ll have for the next month.
“He needs to get balanced and finish off, he’ll be giving them a start no doubt but hopefully he is hitting the line well and he will improve for the run.’’
While a win by The Enzo would be a pleasant surprise, Newnham is expecting a lot more from his other trio with Sweet Victory, Invictus Salute and Aim For Perfection all out to atone.
Sweet Victory has been luckless in her past couple of starts and the Nathan’s Famous Handicap (1600m), where she’s $3.70 favourite, is a chance for her to bounce back.
“Hopefully she can just take up a forward spot from barrier one,’’ he said.
“She was three deep no cover the other day in a leader dominated race. She was just in the wrong position. Tim’s (Clark) had a bit of luck on her and she doesn’t mind wet ground so she’s due.’’
Invictus Salute ($6) bumped into Spiritual Pursuit a fortnight ago and while that filly isn’t in the Randwick Community Day Handicap (1000m) Newnham said she still faces challenges.
Chief among those is the suspension to leading apprentice Robbie Dolan but she did signal another win is close last start as she ran the fastest last 600m of 34.60 and covered an extra 7.8m (Punter's Intelligence) when finishing second.
Invictus Salute runs second at Randwick on June 22
“She covered plenty of ground the other day from a wide gate and was beaten by a horse with plenty of talent,’’ he said.
“The unfortunate part about it is without Robbie she effectively goes up 3kg. Where she gets to in the run is hard to tell, she’s been effective ridden forward and off the pace and it might be one we leave to Christian (Reith).’’
And Aim For Perfection ($3.80 favourite) lost her unbeaten record at Canterbury at her third start but Newnham warns she’s going to appreciate Randwick a lot better in the Winter Racing Handicap (1400m).
“She drew out so it was a waste of time trying to push forward. It was a day where most winners were on the fence so back and wide wasn’t ideal,’’ he said.
“I elected to go up in grade and to a bigger track where I thought she will be more comfortable. I’d say she will be pretty hard to beat.’’