By Ray Hickson
As Sixgun’s older brother is being prepared for a Group 1 or even Everest spring mission trainer Mark Newnham is keen to follow a similar formula for the early part of the youngster’s career.
Newnham used a short winter campaign 12 months ago to great effect with his talented colt Splintex and the pair’s half-sister Invictus Salute a year earlier and both have worked their way through to stakes company.
So it made sense for the Snitzel colt to step out now and Newnham is looking forward to seeing what he can produce in the Harry Angel @ Darley Handicap (1100m) at Canterbury on Wednesday, the same race we could see Winx’s half-sister Covent Garden for the first time.
“He has really good natural ability, similar to Splintex and Invictus Salute, but with a fair bit of improvement to come,’’ Newnham said.
“They have got better as they’ve got older and I’d expect the same from him. I’ll only give him one or two runs.
“I gave Splintex three runs this time last year and he won two, Invictus Salute had two runs at this time of year. So something similar with him, and there’ll be improvement as he gets to three.’’
Sixgun, like so many of owner Geoff Grimish’s horses, carries a military name and he’s shown his share of ability in two trials in May – though Newnham was a little perplexed by his second effort.
The colt won with plenty of intent over 742m at Randwick on May 15 but 11 days later on the synthetic track didn’t travel at all well and ran fifth of six so Newnham opted for a gear change for his debut.
“He was good in one and wanted to hang a bit in the other one, he got his mouth open a bit so we put a cross over nose band on and he’s been good in his work,’’ he said.
“He’s a work in progress and prone to doing things like that. Mentally he’s still a bit immature but he is only going to get better by going to the races.’’
Robbie Dolan rides Sixgun, $9 with TAB, at Canterbury and Newnham would like to see him find the fence in the run as has been a requirement at recent meetings there.
“I’d expect that he’d go forward as long as he jumped well,’’ he said.
“It looks to be a fast race anyway but the way Canterbury is you don’t want to be far away from the fence so (Robbie) will have to make up his mind quickly.’’
Newnham said rising four-year-old Splintex has returned to work to prepare for the spring and he’s hoping he can improve on his last start Group 2 Arrowfield Sprint win and graduate to the top level.
Sixgun wins a trial at Randwick on May 15
At this stage the plan is to target the Group 1 Manikato Stakes in Melbourne but Newnham said if his form warrants and he earns a slot he’d have little hesitation in running in the $15m TAB Everest, run six days before the Manikato, instead.
“There’s not a lot in the sprints in the spring unless you get an Everest spot,’’ he said.
“His form will either warrant it or not. At the same time last year I’d say more than half the slots had gone but this year you’d probably say there’s two (Nature Strip and Classique Legend).
“If he shows enough early form it’ll be interesting to see if anything comes of that. His best win was over 1200m at Randwick and he’s only lightly raced and improving so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.
“He’s a very fast horse and he’s got good ability. I’m expecting him to have his best year.”