By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham is adamant Splintex is no one trick pony but concedes he could be forced into a front-running role again in another very strong two-year-old event at Rosehill on Saturday.
Splintex has been marking time since an all the way win on the Kensington track four weeks ago waiting for the Southern Cross Turf Handicap (1100m) to wind up his preparation.
While Newnham says it’s an ideal race for the colt he didn’t count on meeting the likes of boom youngster Exceedance and a host of other promising types.
“He’s improved since he ran the other day and I had to wait for this race because the races have been 1200m and 1400m,’’ Newnham said.
“I didn’t want to take him to 1200m yet and certainly not 1400m. It’s better than your average June two-year-old field.
“He certainly hasn’t done anything wrong, he overcame a wide draw the other day with a brilliant beginning. He’s probably going to have to do the same again from eight but he hasn’t gone backwards that’s for sure.’’
Splintex has been kept safe in TAB markets opening around $6.50 on Wednesday and Newnham rates him as a potential spring prospect.
Splintex wins at Randwick on May 4
While Saturday’s race presents a new challenge for Splintex, both his starts have been 1000m on the Kensington track, the trainer believes he’s a foolproof racehorse.
“He’s an easy horse to do anything with, he begins well and puts himself there, rates himself well, and has got a good kick,’’ he said.
“From eight he’ll either cross and lead or be outside the leader and control the tempo.
“In his work when we’ve sat him off a horse or two he’s got a really good turn of foot. Where he’s drawn he’ll probably end up doing the same again but I’m sure he’s not one dimensional.
“I think he could chime in late in the spring, he’s still only a small horse and will keep improving.’’
As Splintex looks to consolidate his form and give connections a guide on where he might fit in his half-sister Invictus Salute will be out to bounce back in the Living Turf Handicap (1200m).
The three-year-old ($8) beat a subsequent winner at Warwick Farm in April then failed in Listed company at the Scone carnival where Newnham said the early tempo was against her.
“They went way too fast, they were 10 and a half the first two furlongs and you just can’t do that,’’ he said.
Punter’s Intelligence sectional data showed the filly ran the first 500m in 28.81, only three horses ran faster than 29 seconds in the Denise’s Joy and they all finished in the last few.
“I’ll ask Robbie (Dolan) to ride her with a bit of cover. She’s been listed placed when coming off the speed so we’ll try to do something similar,’’ Newnham said.
“She’ll get dry ground, no weight and a good gate so she should run well.’’