By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham is convinced he’s been able to return gutsy gelding Quackerjack to his best form but warns he’s vulnerable first-up at Canterbury on Friday night.
It was an unusually ordinary spring for Quackerjack where he didn’t fire a shot in three starts after rarely putting in a bad one for almost two years but he did look in good order winning a Canterbury trial on December 15.
Of course as a former jockey Newnham likes to get some first hand information on his horses and has done that as the five-year-old prepares to head north after the Listed $150,000 Christmas Classic (1200m).
“I jumped on him the other day, about a week ago, and Josh (Parr) rode him on Tuesday morning and his work was sharp,’’ Newnham said.
“I was happy with his trial and I’ve been happy with his work.
“That first-up run flattened him, he had a hard run in the Winx Stakes and he just never came up. I tried to freshen him up a bit in between but it didn’t work.”
Quackerjack is both a noted first-up performer in the past and proven on a wet track but the last time he contested a two-year-old race was the Magic Millions Classic in 2018.
The market seems to agree with Newnham’s reservations as TAB has Quackerjack marked as a $15 chance.
With the likes of Spaceboy in the Canterbury Classic, Newnham says it’s unlikely his horse will be able to lead and dominate as he likes to do so if he is to post an upset win he’ll need to find a new trick.
“He will more than likely need the run, and he hasn’t been back to 1200m since he was a two-year-old, but it is a good race to start him off in,’’ he said.
“It’s not impossible that he could win that race but 1200m with 59kg off one trial I would think they might be a bit sharp.
“I wouldn’t think he’d be quick enough to lead so it’ll be interesting to have him ridden just off the pace.
“He has won in the wet but his best runs have been on pretty firm tracks. It doesn’t disadvantage him but I think he is better on firm ground.”
Elsewhere on the Canterbury program, Newnham said Shadow Bridge needs to run in the Schweppes Handicap (1100m) as it’s been a few weeks since his resumption but is curious to see how Law Party performs on debut in the Agency Real Estate Handicap (1250m).
Quackerjack wins a trial at Canterbury on December 15
After pulling off a $51 upset with a first starter at Gosford earlier in the week with Expat – a win Newnham said was a pleasant surprise – a debutant from the Newnham/Parr combination shouldn’t go unexamined.
Law Party, a three-year-old by Press Statement, is being kept safe at $6 with TAB on the back of a soft 7 trial win at Canterbury two weeks ago.
“He’s a nice horse who is a late maturer, he trialled well at Canterbury and will probably appreciate the edge off the ground,’’ he said.
“He’s not drawn ideally but I’d say he will still run well.”