By Gary Harley
Sydney trainer Mark Newnham is enjoying a stellar season in only his second year of training and is confident that the quartet of three-year-olds he is sending to Newcastle on Saturday all have winning chances.
The former jockeys Newcastle team includes Key to Glory (1200 metre Maiden Handicap) Pulang Pula, (1400 metre Maiden Handicap), Kung Fu Master (1850 metre Maiden Plate) and Divine Breeze (1400 metre Class 2 Handicap).
Key to Glory was a beaten odds-on favourite at Kembla first up from a spell on January 27. The gelding raced greenly but finished strongly suggesting he will appreciate the longer trip on Saturday.
Pulang Pula raced on the pace when narrowly beaten at Kembla on January 31 and will strip fitter this time. Kung Fu Master has performed well in all three starts to date and is crying out for the 1850 metre trip. The gelding was strong to the line when a close third over the Kembla Grange mile on January 27.
Divine Breeze won a three horse Gosford Maiden on debut on January 30. It was a mediocre race and she was odds on but the filly won by a length and a half.
Newnham who has trained 29 winners in the first half of the season discussed the prospects of his Newcastle bound quartet on Thursday.
“I am confident that all four will go close to winning with Pulang Pula my best chance. The filly went great when a close second first up at Kembla. She races on the pace and has trained on well since. Key to Glory was all over the place when a close third, first up at Kembla.
"The trip was short of his best and he will go much better on Saturday with the blinkers back on. Kung Fu Master needs every bit of 1850 metres, he was a bit one paced over the 1600 at Kembla last start. The horse has never run a bad race and the blinkers come off on Saturday.
"There was no depth in the three-horse race that Divine Breeze won on debut at Gosford recently. However, she won easily and it was a confidence booster for her. Divine Breeze has been a work in progress but the big track will suit her.
"I won’t have a runner at Randwick as Lanciato won’t run in the Apollo. He will trial at Randwick on February 26 and run in the Newcastle Newmarket,” Newnham said on Thursday.
Newcastle’s leading trainer Kris Lees has five horses running on his home track as he closes in on a century of winners for the season. Lees has already saddled up 91½ winners for the season and he is on track to break the stables best ever season in 2016/2017 when he prepared 161½ winners.
At Newcastle on Saturday Lees Racing will be represented by Lets Get Nauti Gal (race 2), High Power (race 5), Clevanicc (race 7), with Chilly Cha Cha and Unbridled Power in race 8.