By Ray Hickson
Play it again, Rachel!
Trainer Mark Newnham has a clear picture of how front-running mare Greysful Glamour will have her best chance to win Saturday’s Group 2 $250,000 The Agency Villiers Stakes (1600m) and you only need to watch last year’s replay to know what he’s thinking.
He's keen to make use of Greysful Glamour’s fitness, from two recent runs at 2000m, and hopes jockey Rachel King can emulate her feat of 12 months ago when she guided stablemate Quackerjack to basically an all the way win.
“She has the advantage of coming back from 2000m so we can be quite aggressive on her and set a good tempo,’’ Newnham said.
“It gives every horse their chance anyway. Rachel probably needs to give her a similar ride to what she gave Quackerjack last year.
“She rolled to the front, set a strong pace and was too good. Something similar would be on the cards.”
Greysful Glamour, $10 with TAB, won’t be a fan with statisticians given she’s yet to win in 10 starts at Randwick and at nine starts at a mile – though four starts back she was beaten in the last stride over said Randwick mile.
Newnham has been rapt with her form in Sydney this spring and into the summer and she posted a deserved win when she was able to dictate terms to score a runaway win in the ATC Cup (2000m) two weeks ago.
“She’s getting good ground consistently and her three runs here have been really good,’’ he said.
“The ATC Cup probably wasn’t a vintage race but the manner in which she did it was pretty good.’’
On the subject of Quackerjack, last year’s Villiers winner will likely trial at Canterbury on Tuesday and is set to resume in the Listed Christmas Classic (1200m) at the same track on January 1.
The five-year-old disappointed Newnham during his three start spring campaign and he decided to hit the reset button.
“He went out in the paddock for a couple of weeks, he didn’t come up last prep,’’ Newnham said.
“That’s unusual for him, he’s been terrific every preparation he’s had. He’s back in good order.”
Blinkers go on Newnham’s promising import Spirit Ridge in the Drinkwise Mile (1600m) to help compensate for a month since his gutsy first-up placing at Newcastle.
After drawing wide, and with 61kg, Spirit Ridge sat on the speed and held off all the chasers except for the winner Super who had 7kg less and the benefit of race fitness.
“The other horse was in very good form at the time, had a lighter weight and outsprinted him but he returned in very good shape,’’ he said.
“In his two runs he’s shown he’s up to Saturday grade at least and handles our conditions.
“I’d imagine with blinkers on he will settle in the first half dozen. Generally a month between runs and no trial is not a great recipe for success but with this horse, and the fact he’s staying at a mile with blinkers on, it won’t be a matter of not fit enough.”
The Villiers was considered for the six-year-old but Newnham saw no benefit in throwing him in the deep end just yet and he’s $4 favourite with TAB in the benchmark race.
An impressive win might tempt Newnham to tackle the Group 3 Summer Cup (2000m) at Randwick on Boxing Day but it would need to be dominant to deviate from the reasons he didn’t tackle the Villiers.
Greysful Glamour wins at Rosehill on November 28
“You wouldn’t think it would be the strongest Group 3 in the world but one of the reasons I didn’t run him in the Villiers was if he runs a good second or third he goes up a lot of rating points without winning and it costs you wins,’’ he said.
“He’s a gelding and his career will be defined by prizemoney so I want him to be able to win as many races as he can. If you put yourself too high in the benchmark too quickly it makes it harder to win.”
Two-year-old Mission River will also be sporting blinkers when he makes his debut in the $500,000 Inglis Nursery (1000m) on Saturday.
The half-brother to Wyong Magic Millions winner Unite And Conquer has pleased Newnham with his build up and he said the colt will outperform what he showed in his trials.
“He’s showing above average ability in his work, he’s quite a big horse. He’ll probably go to the paddock regardless of the result,’’ he said.
“His work on Tuesday in blinkers was pretty sharp, I’d say he will beat more home than beat him.”
Mission Value was a $17 chance with TAB on Thursday.