I want more hits
TRAINER MARK NEWNHAM HAS A CLEAR GOAL FOR 2018 AND IT’S A WINNING STRATEGY HE IS PURSUING, WRITES SHAYNE O’CASS
Mark Newnham’s goals at the end of his two full calendar years as a trainer have been met — and now he is setting himself an even more ambitious one in the 12 months ahead.
Newnham had 25 horses on the books at the end of 2016, a number which has risen to 90 as we close in on the end of 2017.
Now, Newnham plans to put those numbers to best effect — winning races.
“If we were having this conversation next Christmas, I’d like to say I was in the top 10 trainers in Sydney,’’ Newnham said this week.
“I think that is achievable by having the ammunition and more horses at the races because it is a young stable with a lot of unraced or lightly raced horses.’’
Three of them — debutant and Magic Millions-Golden Slipper hopeful Carnina, iron mare Star Sensation and one of the stable’s older brigade Lanciato — will all be in action at Rosehill Gardens tomorrow.
All Too Hard’s daughter Carnina, who will race for the first time in the Merry Christmas ATC Members Handicap (1100m), has won both of her barrier trials in grand style.
A $100,000 yearling purchase on the Gold Coast in January, Newnham has high hopes that she will make a return visit next January and play a role in the $2.5 million feature and, if all goes to plan, the $3.5 million Golden Slipper after that. “She is a really nice filly,’’ he said. “Saturday is a good starting point for her. She has drawn barrier 1, which is helpful, and the trials have been good.
“She is a big, strong filly who is a good doer. I expect she will put herself right in the firing line from the good barrier.
“Over 1100m at Rosehill with the rail out it is essential to be down near the inside. She’s got a few things in her favour but the only thing that is against, is that it is hard to win on debut over 1100m at Rosehill for twoyear-olds, so the horses that have raced have naturally got an advantage.
“Gongs was impressive and the form looks good out of the race. Orcein, the horse of Waller’s, ran well at his first start.
“She will improve on what she does on Saturday but I have had this race in mind because it will give her three weeks into her next run and then a couple of runs into the Magic Millions, so she’ll get two chances to qualify and if she doesn’t happen to qualify then she probably didn’t deserve her spot.’’
Not only does Newnham have a number of Magic Millions contenders on the go, he’ll also likely saddle up a few in the $500,000 ATC Inglis Nursery (1000m) at Randwick on December 16.
That is the same race that Newnham’s Diamond Tathagata finished runner-up behind subsequent Slipper winner She Will Reign.
Newnham can’t hide his admiration for chestnut filly Star Sensation, who was a dual acceptor tomorrow with the decision made to contest the ATC Owner’s Benefit Card (1400m) against her own age.
“She is well weighted in that race and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of pressure in it. She should be able to put herself in the first two, whereas the horse to beat, Heliosphere, will probably have to go back to last,’’ he said.
“She has been fantastic. She has never run poorly, I think her only run where she was out of the top three was when she ran in one of the Slipper lead-ups on a wet track and was back on the inside when they were coming down the outside fence.
“She is just a good, tough, genuine filly. Nothing fazes her. She has got a great constitution. Very rarely do you look at her feed bin and there is any feed left.’’
Newnham’s third chance at a winner tomorrow is the former Kiwi-bred and raced gelding Lanciato, who resumes in the ATC Membership Now Open (1200m) having gone for a break subsequent to his nose win at Hawkesbury in a Benchmark 85 on April 29.
“Lanciato was my second runner (as a trainer) and he just got beaten one day at Rosehill,’’ Newnham said.
“He is much better when he gets good ground and he is very effective second-up and enjoys a bit of space between runs. I would expect him to run really well on Saturday because he is going well but he’ll be better second-up.”
Newnham, the first Australian jockey to ride a winner in South Korea (Busan in 2005), is one of those who has been on both sides of the thoroughbred street and is often asked which trade he found easier, being a trainer or a jockey.
“A jockey’s life is a bit like working parttime,’’ he said with a laugh.
“The trainer is a full-time job, seven days a week, and you’ve got staff to deal with.
Whereas with a jockey, you’ve got no staff and you work when you feel like it.
“The jockey’s life is a lot easer than the trainer but trainers don’t have he danger involved. It’s a great lifestyle being a jockey but horses are my life so being a trainer is part of my lifestyle. I like going to work so it’s not hard.’’
Newnham has lost races both as a trainer and as a jockey and, while never easy, it’s harder to cope when you’re watching from the grandstand.
“Losing hurts me more now that I am training because some days you have to go home after that race because it might be your only runner but when you’re a jockey you might have five or six other chances,” he said.
It’s a great lifestyle being a jockey but horses are my life so being a trainer is part of my lifestyle.
“So, like I say, it definitely hurts more as a trainer because that might have been the only bullet you had to fire on the day.
“Sometimes you just know with a horse that this is its race and it won’t be any better than it is today and if something goes wrong and you’re beaten a short margin, you go home thinking ‘what if’.
“I’ve been around a long time now and it’s one of those things that half an hour later you move on because you have to. If you stay worrying about it you’ll drive yourself nuts so you move on.’’
Newnham’s philosophical approach and positive demeanor extends to how he deals with jockeys after a loss.
The trainer is not one big on “sprays” and retribution.
“I can generally understand why something has happened,’’ he says.
“I would rather a jockey come in and say ‘I buggered it up’ — and generally the guys I put on I know well and have a good rapport with. They know if they have made good or bad decisions so we talk about it and move on to the next one because once it’s done it’s done.
“I’ll be feeling it because I want the horse to win as much for me and my owners and my staff but there’s no point in lingering on because you have got other things to attend to, you’ve got your next runner.
“You can’t spend time dwelling on something that may or may not have happened. I don’t need to hear an excuse, I just need to hear what we can do next time to the change the result.’’
Among Newnham’s many achievements in racing was winning the inaugural Godolphin Thoroughbred Excellence Award at the same time as he was won the Dedication To Racing Award.
Not one for personal reflection, it is an honour that Newnham greatly treasures.
“I am part of the judging panel for the Awards now,’’ Newnham said.
“It’s a great initiative by Godolphin and it deserves a little bit more industry involvement because you don’t often hear of a lot of the people that are nominated for awards and are deserving of awards.
“I hope it gains a bit of momentum here over the next couple of years because it certainly has overseas.”
Trainer Mark Newnham with Tathagata, and (inset) Tommy Berry aboard Lanciato. Pictures: Renee Nowytarger, Jenny Evans