By Ray Hickson
There’ll be no wondering what might have been when Mark Newnham sends imported stayer Skymax around in Tuesday’s Listed $150,000 Australia Day Cup (2400m) at Warwick Farm.
Newnham said the five-year-old's stamina is his one major asset and will be instructing jockey Robbie Dolan to take full advantage of that, and the limit weight, as he races more established stayers for the first time.
Skymax is already a winner over the Warwick Farm 2400m, he carried 61.5kg to a five length victory at his second Australian start back on December 9, and the lessons from that race form the blueprint for how he can topple the more established stayers.
“His asset is that he’s a strong stayer but you just have to make sure it becomes a staying contest and not a sit and sprint,’’ Newnham said.
“Josh (Parr) did that well two starts back when they slowed right up, he got rolling and kept rolling. He went really well there but against moderate opposition.
“It’d be the same as the other day, if at any stage they are going too slow I’d be telling (Robbie) to get on his bike.”
Since that runaway win Skymax has finished fourth in a Benchmark 78 over 2400m on the Kensington track but that was on a heavy surface and he was burdened with 61kg.
Skymax wins at Warwick Farm on December 9
He spotted the winner Power Of Attorney 9kg, the runner-up Notabadharada 8kg and third placed Harpo Marx, who has won since, 5kg so Newnham isn’t holding that against the gelding who was only beaten two lengths.
“I’m just happy to get him down in weight and back on good ground,’’ he said.
“I think they key is getting down to 53kg, Robbie rides that weight comfortably.
“He’s been here a while now and seems to have acclimatised pretty well. He has a good coat on him and I don’t have to work him a lot.
“He’s a clean winded horse and he’s doing well in between runs. It’s a good chance for him at a track and distance he’s won at and on good ground.”
Despite the class rise, Skymax’s staying prowess has been respected by the market where he’s $4.80 second favourite with TAB behind Wolfe ($3.60).
Newnham produces an ex-North Queensland sprinter called Marway in the Vinery Stud Handicap (1000m) who has been sent to Sydney to test the water.
The gelding, $6 with TAB, has won eight of his 21 starts and last raced back in April where he carried 61.5kg to an easy win over 1300m at Rockhampton and was a recent trial winner over 740m at Randwick.
“Coming in on a 66 rating is a competitive enough rating for him,’’ Newnham said.
“He trialled well, I don’t very often only give them one trial and run them but at 1000m nice and fresh from a good gate he will run well with improvement to come.
“He’s a bit of a winner, as in he has a good record, and (the owners) wanted to see if he could measure up here.”