By Ray Hickson
He’s still not three by his birth date and Lord Olympus continues to punch above his weight, much to the delight of trainer Mark Newnham and the gelding’s connections.
You could make an argument that he should be unbeaten in four starts but regardless, as he chases successive city wins in the Impending @ Darley Handicap (1100m) at Kensington on Wednesday, Newnham said he has been a pleasant surprise.
“He’s been a bit of a sleeper, just a good genuine horse. He never jumped out as being a good horse but he keeps improving,’’ he said.
“He’s always shown a bit of talent but I didn’t think he’d get this deep into his prep and I didn’t think he’d keep improving the way he has.”
Lord Olympus wasn’t born until November 23 so he’s still a month short of his third birthday.
Newnham said his last start Canterbury win, where he held off Sweet Reply over 1250m, is a testament to how tough the horse is and how he keeps stepping up to the plate and he’s not overly concerned about a wet track.
And he said the fact he can stay in midweek company, thanks to the introduction of Graduation races, is a bonus for his owners.
“He has a really good will to win so he is well suited there with the claim (for Tom Sherry),’’ he said.
“He’s probably better suited at the 1100m than the 1250m the other day, it was more about the conditions of the race that I wanted to run him.
“I think these graduation races are a good addition, when you’re trying to get a return for your owners, because it gives you a chance to win a few races before you go to Saturday.
“He’s won three races and he’s still in Wednesday.”
Lord Olympus is a $3.50 second favourite with TAB while Newnham is prepared to forgive stablemate Mrs Maisel ($7.50) for her first-up fifth at Warwick Farm three weeks ago.
The filly was a second-up winner last preparation and is proven in the wet.
“I thought she ran really well on a track that suited horses on pace,’’ he said.
“She needed the run, she made up good ground and probably peaked on her run at the 100m. She does like soft ground so I see her hitting the line well.”
There were excuses for Money Magic when she put in a rare poor performance, beating just one home at Warwick Farm, first-up and Newnham was somewhat relieved to discover the likely reason.
So he can expect a lot better in the Bowermans Commercial Furniture Handicap (1400m).
“The other day she was at her top the whole race, didn’t seem comfortable,’’ he said.
Lord Olympus wins at Canterbury on October 5
“A couple of days after she looked like she was in season so I’d say it was more a seasonal complaint and she’s worked well since.”
And Shadow Crush, the only horse to inflict a defeat on stablemate Lord Olympus, will be out to back up his Warwick Farm win two weeks ago in the TAB Long May We Play Handicap (1100m) where he’s $3.60 favourite.
Newnham said there is a small wet track query, given he failed in his only heavy track attempt, but can’t fault his recent form which includes a solid performance behind a subsequent stakes winner.
“It was a good little race at Canterbury behind Black Magnum and The Bopper, and it was run in really quick time, then he was good at Warwick Farm,’’ he said.
“He still has to handle wet ground but he’s starting to deliver on what he showed early in his career.”