By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham has never got ahead of himself when it comes to the careers of his apprentices so the fact he’s handed Tom Sherry his first Group 1 ride on Every Rose at Randwick on Saturday shouldn’t go unnoticed.
When Josh Parr, who rode Every Rose to victory first-up, elected to ride Oaks bound stablemate Miravalle in the Group 1 $500,000 Cellarbrations Surround Stakes (1400m) there was no hesitation from Newnham in giving Sydney’s leading apprentice the reins.
Newnham said Sherry, who has ridden 33 city winners this season to be sixth on the jockeys premierships and 21 clear of the nearest apprentice, proved himself at the top level in the spring through his narrow defeat in the $7.5m Golden Eagle and his first Group 2 placing a week later.
“He’s earned it, he’s riding really well. He rode Icebath in a $7.5m race and gave her every chance,’’ Newnham said.
“Even though he was disappointed not to win I said ‘you can’t be disappointed in your ride’.
“If you get an opportunity you can only give your horse every chance to win. I told him you can walk away disappointed in the result but don’t be disappointed in your ride.”
Every Rose led all the way to win the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) two weeks ago and while Newnham concedes 1400m is going to be tougher he’s not convinced it’s beyond her.
She’s only had the one attempt, back in the Tea Rose Stakes in September, and Newnham isn’t holding that against her.
“I dismiss that completely,’’ he said.
“Her first three starts were fantastic and then she didn’t have much luck in the Magic Millions. In her two short preps after that she had maturity issues which weren’t anything significant bar she needed time.
“This time in she has come up well right from the start. We went there with a fair degree of confidence that she would run top three and she did that and did it well.
“Obviously the question mark is the 1400m but she’ll find herself in front, if she can conserve energy she’s every chance to run it out.”
Despite beating many of her rivals, as a $21 chance, Every Rose is still an outsider at $17 with TAB.
It’s often said that the Randwick 1400m is easier on a front runner than the 1200m, though with a capacity field in the Surround Newnham is aware there’s a chance of some pressure being applied to Every Rose.
But he’s not going to change anything from another wide draw and Sherry will likely round the home bend in front in his Group 1 debut.
“Tom will give her a nice positive ride and it will be a matter of how well she relaxes in front,’’ he said.
“She will find the front, that’s her natural pattern. She’s a filly that likes to get out and gallop and we won’t be getting in her way.
“She’s drawn wide again but she showed she could handle soft ground the other day.”
Every Rose wins at Randwick on February 13
Miravalle is a $26 chance in her first run since a fourth in the VRC Oaks back in November and Parr’s decision to ride her says that she’s come back in good shape.
Newnham, who combined with Parr to win the Surround in 2019 with Nakeeta Jane, would agree with that estimation but given she’s on a path towards a 2400m Group 1 in April he’d like to see her attacking the line strongly late.
“She’s coming up well, 1400m is obviously short of her best but she will run well,’’ he said.
“I thought her fourth in the Oaks and fourth in the Wakeful were pretty good. She had no luck in the Spring Champion and we got out tactics wrong in the Flight Stakes.
“She’s had that good grounding under her belt now.”