By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham suspects at least one TAB Everest runner will emerge from Saturday’s Shorts at Royal Randwick and it’s pretty much now or never for his lightly raced Splintex.
With the selection of Tofane on Wednesday night, five horses have been confirmed for the $15m sprint pinnacle so, Godolphin’s slot aside, there’s still half the field to be decided and therefore ample spots up for grabs.
Newnham said he was more that happy with Splintex’s first-up effort in the Concorde Stakes, he ran fifth of six behind Gytrash, and is expecting to follow his trend of lifting sharply second-up.
“Once you get to this grade they are all hard races to win but he’s never won first-up, he ran well the other day and was only about two lengths behind Nature Strip,’’ Newnham said.
“If you’re running within two lengths of Nature Strip you’re running pretty well. It’s the right race for him, regardless of the fact it’s an Everest audition of sorts.
“You’d think there would be a couple of spots filled out of the race, who they go to who knows, and he’s there in good order.
“He’s had a good tough run over 1000m and he’s come out of it well, if he runs really well he can put his hand up for an Everest spot.”
Splintex, winner of the Arrowfield Sprint at The Championships, is a $21 chance with TAB in the Group 2 $500,000 Bowermans Commercial Furniture Shorts (1100m).
In the Concorde, Splintex clocked the third fastest last 600m of 32.86 (Punter's Intelligence) so that told Newnham he’s come back in good shape and he said the four-year-old looks to have developed physically.
He has an awkward barrier to overcome, 11 in the 12 horse field, but Newnham doesn’t believe it’s all bad from out there.
“Any race you’re in you’d rather draw well but he has good gate speed, I could see him in a position sitting off Ball Of Muscle or somewhere in the first four,’’ he said.
“He’s improved since the other day, his work on Tuesday was good, I think he will run really well.
“He’s always been a horse that has had great natural speed. In some of his wins he’s been able to sustain really good sectionals, this will be no different because it will be a high pressure race from the start.
“We can only have him there in the best possible shape and hope he gets a good enough run in transit.”
A good run may see him have another shot in the Premiere Stakes in two weeks but if Splintex doesn’t attract an Everest slot he’ll be aimed at the Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley.
Newnham has two fillies in the Group 2 $200,000 Darley Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) and he says Every Rose and Miravalle are complete opposites.
It’ll be Every Rose’s first start against just the fillies since the Gimcrack Stakes almost 12 months ago and Newnham said she did enough in the San Domenico, running fourth behind Anders, to say she can give some cheek up in distance.
“She’s been well performed against the colts,’’ he said.
“What I was encouraged by the other day was she got back past Doubtland in the last 100m, she looked well beaten but she rallied and got get head back in front of him.
“She probably gets control of the race form barrier one so she should run well.”
Splintex's first-up run in the Concorde Stakes on September 5
Miravalle, a half-sister to Yankee Rose, posted her first win at Warwick Farm a couple of weeks ago and is headed towards races like the Flight Stakes (1600m) and possibly Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) next month.
“She is going to make a nice middle distance filly, the draw probably puts her back out of it early but she will be hitting the line strongly and looking for a mile after this,’’ he said.
Last start winner Academy faces a couple of hurdles to posting back-to-back victories in the Tresemme Handicap (1400m) but Newnham expects a top four finish at worst.
Academy, $16 with TAB, rises 5kg on a game win over 1500m at Rosehill on August 29.
“He got the job done the other day, the form out of the race has been quite good with Discharged and Badoosh winning, he’s gone up in weight because Tom (Sherry) is suspended but against that he’s in good form,’’ he said.
“I’d imagine he will run in the top three or four and with a bit of luck he can win.”