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SUNDAY: April 26, 2020: AN Anzac Day double at Gosford yesterday was Mitch Newman’s “first in years” – and one of his winners had a real rugby league flavour about it.

Former jockey Newman’s victories’ with Diva Bella ($18) and the aptly-named Eighth Immortal ($5) in the opening two races both were at the expense of leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, whose representatives started favorite and had to be content with second placings.

Reward For Effort filly Diva Bella (apprentice Cejay Graham) finished strongly to overpower $2.40 favorite Killin and clinch her first win in the 3YO Maiden Plate (1200m), whilst Eighth Immortal (Rory Hutchings) was too nippy for his rivals and also broke through in the Provincial & Country Maiden Plate (1100m), defeating two-year-old debutant Midland ($2.35 favorite).

The latter is a five-year-old gelding by I Am Invincible and is named after the legendary Newcastle, New South Wales and Australian rugby league ace Andrew Johns, who is amongst his group of owners.

Johns was named Australian Rugby League’s eighth immortal in 2012.

Newman’s double lifted his tally of winners this season to seven; his best since notching a benchmark 10 in 2017-18.

“It’s not the first double I have trained, but it’s been a while,” Newman said last night.

“Probably not for a couple of years.”

His Gosford winners were part of a group of horses transferred to him earlier this year from Rosehill Gardens trainer Tim Martin following a disqualification imposed by RacingNSW stewards.

Diva Bella was having her fourth start for Newman, and Eighth Immortal was making his debut for his new stable.

“I rode for Tim and won Quirindi and Armidale Cups for him, and was fortunate to get these horses,” Newman said.

“Diva Bella has a lot of ability, and finally showed it at Gosford.

“She had a slight setback after finishing fifth (as a $1.70 favorite) at Orange on March 22 and as a result I wasn’t too confident about her chances because she hadn’t raced for five weeks.

“But I did expect Eighth Immortal to be hard to beat.

“He had some residual fitness when he came to me, having raced at Hawkesbury in mid-December.

“Eighth Immortal didn’t begin racing until the start of this season as a five-year-old and it was good to see him break through for his owners.”

Newman, who began training in 2005 after a successful career in the saddle, has 16 horses in work at Hawkesbury.