By Ray Hickson
It might pay to keep an eye on Big Parade’s demeanour as he walks around the mounting yard at Kembla Grange on Saturday because trainer Mark Newnham says it’ll tell him plenty about what effect the ultimate gear change has had.
He suspects gelding the four-year-old will change his inconsistent behaviour and if it has the same impact on his form as the operation did on stablemate Quackerjack he could charge through the grades.
Big Parade is the $2.70 favourite with TAB in the ABAX Contracting Handicap (1200m).
It might sound strange to geld a horse whose last start was a 5.5 length win, at Canterbury on September 9, but Newnham said the writing was on the wall that day and what happened two weeks later at Canterbury sealed the deal.
“The talent was never in question it was just his attitude,’’ Newnham said.
“The last time he went to the races he was scratched at the barrier because he had some blood in his nose then he threw himself down on the truck going home so he made it an easy decision.
“He carried on quite a bit the day he won, at the tie ups, but he travelled okay that day. He was getting worse and was only going to end up hurting himself.
“We gelded him and kept him in the stable and kept him ticking over.”
As a method of assessing Big Parade post gelding, Newnham sent him to Warwick Farm a few weeks ago for a barrier trial and he passed the test.
Then in a second trial, back at Randwick on November 10, he showed the trainer he means business with an impressive three length win.
“I wanted to put him on a truck and travel him out to Warwick Farm to see what his manners were like on the truck and he trialled well but he trialled better the second time,’’ he said.
“He’s been well behaved ever since. He’s more relaxed so he shouldn’t be using up nervous energy like he was.
“If he can travel (to the races) nice and quietly and gets into the parade in good shape it allows him to do his best.”
Newnham said he’d expect Josh Parr to send Big Parade forward from his outside barrier and if he stays relaxed should produce what he’s been showing at home.
A year ago Quackerjack was beaten in a tight photo finish in the $1m The Gong before winning the Group 2 Villiers and Newnham can only hope the next 12 months are as kind to Big Parade.
“Quackerjack was a 73 rater and came back as a gelding and went through to be 103-4,’’ he said.
“Even prior to coming to me Big Parade always shown enough ability but his attitude was questionable.
“If they have the ability but are lacking the consistency they can get through their grades pretty well and I’d say he is a good chance of doing that.”
Big Parade wins a trial at Randwick on November 10
Imported stayer Skymax makes his Australian debut for Newnham in the I98’s Marty, Crammy And Lyndal Handicap (2000m) and it’s very much a look and see for the trainer.
The five-year-old has won two of his 11 starts and the owners sent him down under to see if he can find some consistency under our conditions.
He’s trialled twice and both Newnham and Parr have been on board in his trackwork and are pf the opinion he is a bit one paced at the moment and that’s why he’s kicking off at 2000m.
“It’ll be good to get him started and get a bit of a line on him,’’ he said.
“He’s done well since he’s been here. He performs better with blinkers on but I will until we get a run under our belt before that.”