By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham will preview a potential ATC Oaks contender when Harmony Rose aims to keep her unbeaten record intact in the Drinkwise Mile (1600m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
The filly has been likened by the trainer to his 2019 Oaks runner-up Scarlet Dream in both the timing of her first preparation and the ability she’s showing.
Harmony Rose, by Group 1 winning stayer Glass Harmonium, was successful on debut at Kembla Grange in October and backed it up with a gutsy win over a mile at Gosford on November 10.
“I have a good opinion of her, I think she is a really good staying filly,’’ Newnham said.
“She’ll have this run and a break and I’ll get her back for the autumn.
“I thought she did a good job the other day off a really slow speed, it took a while for her to build her momentum but I thought her last 100m was really good.”
Newnham is yet to win an Oaks but he’s been close with both Scarlet Dream and Greysful Glamour (2018 VRC Oaks) finishing second, Quintessa ran third in the 2020 ATC Oaks while Miravalle was fourth in this month’s VRC Oaks.
He said he can see parallels between Scarlet Dream, who debuted in October and won two of her three starts in the next month before returning in the autumn, and Harmony Rose ($3.50 with TAB).
“She’s probably on a par with where Scarlet Dream was at the same time,’’ he said.
“She’s had a similar preparation to Scarlet Dream, who is with another stable now, she had three runs at this time of year then came up and ran second to Verry Elleegant in the Oaks.
“It’s fair to say she’s unfashionably bred but the Darby guys have a knack at finding one out of the box. She was a little bit of a handful early days but lacked a bit of maturity more than anything.”
Josh Parr takes over from apprentice Tyler Schiller on Harmony Rose and he’ll also have the job of keeping Mission Legend’s mind on racing in the Bowermans Commercial Furniture Handicap (1000m).
The lightly raced three-year-old has been a handful for Schiller, particularly at his past two starts, and Newnham said the young apprentice has done well to guide him to a win and a second despite some waywardness.
Between his remarkable maiden win at Kembla on October 15 and a narrow loss, after again wobbling off the track, Parr rode Mission Legend ($7.50 with TAB) to an easy trial win.
“He performed well for Josh in a trial in between him running off the track at Kembla,’’ Newnham said.
“He’s a big ungainly type of horse and Tyler has done a good job on him in his three runs.
Harmony Rose wins at Gosford on November 10
“He performed well the other day and just didn’t quite get the job done but he’s an improving horse. He probably just mistimed his run a little bit but that wasn’t Tyler’s fault because he was riding to instructions to keep him balanced.
“He’s been a very green horse, a difficult big horse to handle but he has a certain amount of talent.”
Meanwhile, Newnham said he’ll go back to the drawing board with Big Parade following his unplaced run as a short-priced favourite at Kembla Grange last Saturday.
He said the four-year-old overdid it in front and he will likely take the blinkers off for his next start.
“The blinkers were there because he wasn’t as genuine as he should be as a colt but he’s no longer a colt so we’ll start from scratch again with him,’’ he said.