By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham has the fingers crossed that well related three-year-old Sixgun can realise his potential now he’s had some ‘distractions’ removed.
Sixgun, a brother to Group 2 winner Splintex and half brother to stakes winner Invictus Salute, returns as a gelding in the Ranvet Handicap (1000m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday after four starts last year that produced mixed results.
He was an impressive debut winner at Canterbury then blew the start before running fifth behind Anders and Ole Kirk in the Rosebud, he then finished second to Joviality and was beaten 2.9 lengths by Wild Ruler in the Listed Heritage Stakes.
“At his first start in a race he was a couple of lengths behind the second last horse then decided to switch on and beat them,’’ Newnham said.
"Then we had trouble with him at the barrier, he’s a horse that was easily distracted but his behaviour is a lot better now.
“He’s a well above average horse that has needed to get his racing manners in order.
“He’s probably got the talent of his brother and his sister but he didn’t have the mindset they had.”
There were no signs of his barrier issues in Sixgun’s two trials in April leading into his first-up assignment, he led all the way in the first over 740m then was forced to chase the flying Embracer over 1050m.
“He’s naturally quick so he is going to trial well over short distances,’’ Newnham said.
“He did over race a bit (in the latest), he was a bit fresh, but he’s been settling well in his work since then and I don’t think he will give Josh (Parr) too much trouble.
“He’s been given time, the family has improved with a bit of time, and he’s been gelded so we are running out of excuses if he can’t produce consistent performances.”
Newnham said there aren’t any major plans for Sixgun, $2.70 favourite with TAB on Tuesday, at this stage until he proves himself to be a reliable conveyance but is confident he has things right and will make ‘a more than handy gelding’.
Jockey Josh Parr won’t be given any specific instructions on what to do on Sixgun from barrier 10 and Newnham said he’ll be ridden ‘how he jumps’.
“There looks to be good pace in the race and I’d probably prefer if he can contain his speed early and let him hit the line,’’ he said.
Luck deserted stablemate Onchao in the Hawkesbury Guineas at his second run from a break and Newnham expects him to bounce back to form in the Darley 2021 Roster Handicap (1300m).
Sixgun runs second in a trial at Randwick on April 20
The colt will have to offset another wide barrier but the Guineas certainly didn’t pan out how the trainer thought and he can only be forgiving.
He said when Acrophobic reacted to the blinkers first time by firing up and kicking through on the fence it left Onchao stranded and he couldn’t sustain the run on a solid tempo.
“We thought we’d be outside Ellsberg and when Acrophobic got running and held its spot that posted us three deep and we were stuck there,’’ Newnham said.
“That wasn’t ideal. He’s back in grade and he should run back to his form.”