By Ray Hickson
Trainer Mark Newnham couldn’t have scripted it any better – a wet track and good speed up front – for Black Magnum’s first-up assignment at Kensington on Saturday.
And given he freely admits he’s long planned for Black Magnum to provide his boom apprentice Tom Sherry a dream introduction to metro racing how the TAB Live Vision Handicap (1000m) is shaping up is going to that script.
Genuine speed from the likes of Witherspoon, Rosina Kojonup and Spaceboy appears to provide a platform for a swooper and Black Magnum, $4.20 second favourite with TAB, has the record to suggest he could be that swooper.
But Newnham said as much as he’s tried to control the four-year-old’s destiny it’s now up to how the race pans out and how Sherry handles him.
“There looks to be high speed, a wet track, he’s won three out of four first-up and run second the other time so it is a good formula for success,’’ Newnham said.
“It looked the right race for the horse and he gets 3kg off for Tom in that type of Saturday field. It’s the right race for horse and jockey.’’
Newnham’s ‘script’ for Black Magnum’s return suggests that the gelding will be around midfield in the run with Witherspoon, Rosina Kojonup and Spaceboy setting a hectic pace.
But he tempers that by saying 1000m races on the Kensington track can favour speed horses.
“It can drag the others out of their comfort zone, it could work one of two ways,’’ he said.
“Being on the Kenso sometimes they just don’t come back to you or they overdo it on heavy ground and the swoopers run over them.’’
Sherry, who could easily rack up that first city win prior to Black Magnum’s race with several winning chances for other trainers at the Kensington meeting, has created a huge impression in his first season riding in Australia with 93 winners, he’s the leading apprentice in the state and leads the Provincial Jockeys Premiership.
It’s a formula that Newnham used with huge success with Robbie Dolan, the soon to be two-time champion apprentice in Sydney, and he’s made sure Sherry has had plenty of experience on Black Magnum in a trial and trackwork.
“He’s a straightforward horse to ride, he’s very good first-up and he is a 1000m winner on the Kenso,’’ he said.
“He’s in good form, his trial was good and he works to his usual standard. He’s a little wintry in the coat but that’s the time of year it is.
“If I had an opportunity to throw him in an 1100m it would probably be ideal but first-up last time 1000m was fine and he carried a big weight. For him first-up, wet ground never worries him, it’s the right race.’’
Black Magnum's trial at Randwick on June 26
Newnham’s only other acceptor on Saturday is Somnus in the Jack Premier Electronics Handicap (2000m) at Kembla Grange but he said it’s unlikely he’ll run there and instead head to Canterbury on Wednesday.
Somnus was a big winner over 1880m at Newcastle two weeks ago but given he appears likely to secure a start on Wednesday don’t be surprised if he is a scratching.
“I accepted for Saturday because I was worried with the rail out 6m at Canterbury whether he would get a run because he’s only a 66 rater in a 74 and quite often that doesn’t get you in,’’ he said.
“With the weather forecast he’s more likely to get better ground at Canterbury because Kembla will be heavy, I’d prefer him on a 6 or 7 which I hope Canterbury gets back to.’’