By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham figures consistent but frustrating gelding Francesco is due for a change of luck and is hoping it finally comes his way at Rosehill on Saturday.
Francesco hasn’t won since December last year and has finished in the first five in all five runs this campaign.
The six-year-old backs up after a luckless fifth behind Comin’ Through at Randwick last week and Newnham has the fingers crossed that the Lindt Handicap (1500m) is his chance.
“You’d like to think so, he’s busting to win a race he just needs a few things to go his way,’’ he said.
“They probably went too slow for him last week. He lobbed into a gun spot then when the pace slowed a few came around him and the next minute he was shuffled out of it.
“The way it was run he was never going to run them down.’’
The gelding ran his last 600m of the 1400m race last week in 33 seconds flat.
Francesco will jump from barrier four on Saturday and Newnham hopes that the expected leaders Special Missile and The Pharoah have to do a bit of work to find the front.
“The pace has drawn wide so if he jumps well he should be running fourth or fifth behind the speed and then he’ll have his chance in the straight,’’ he said.
“I’ve had this race in mind the whole time and it would have been three weeks between runs, if he didn’t run last week, which wouldn’t be ideal but he didn’t have a hard run.’’
Weights and measures students would understand Newnham’s mare Selita meets Bonny O’Reilly on 8kg better terms for when they last met in Brisbane on June 3.
On that occasion, Bonny O’Reilly held a 1.3 length margin over Selita but they carried the same weight and it’s a vastly different scenario to the Fiig Handicap (1200m).
“When they met in Brisbane she was too good for us but eight kilos difference hopefully makes up for a length and a quarter,’’ Newnham said.
“She has to run really well to warrant going into stakes level at her next start. The aim since I took her over was to get her to stakes level, we’ve managed a placing now we have to win one.’’
Newnham said he’s likely to ask apprentice Rachel King to make use of Selita’s 51.5kg after the claim and have her positioned on the pace as she was when she resumed with a solid third at Rosehill two weeks ago.
Unraced three-year-old Mission Tycoon heads to Newcastle on Saturday for his debut in the Minco Tech Maiden Plate (1150m) and Newnham is parked right on the fence about his chances.
The “big, ungainly’’ gelding easily won a 740m trial on the Warwick Farm synthetic track on August 14. “He’s shown enough talent on the track but at this stage of the year the horses with experience have an edge,’’ he said.
“If he could find a spot on the pace and take a lot of the thought process out of it he’ll run well but if he’s trapped out he’s probably not experienced enough to cope with that.’’
Meanwhile, Newnham said his classy three-year-old Diamond Tathagata is likely to trial at Randwick next Thursday after a genuine excuse was found for his first-up failure.
The Skyline Stakes winner failed to beat a horse home in The Rosebud first-up but pulled up with a foot abscess that burst a few days after the race.
“That was probably the reason for his poor showing but he’s over that now,’’ Newnham said.