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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


WEDNESDAY: November 16, 2022: HAWKESBURY is trainer Mark Newnham’s most successful track.

Forty-six winners (two more than Royal Randwick) including a 2020-21 premiership, number amongst his 364 career victories to date.

But it’s been a drought in terms of winners so far this season with eight placings from 13 runners – and one which he hopes to rectify tomorrow.

The multiple Group 1 winning trainer had hoped to go to Hawkesbury with three good chances, but two will have to suffice.

Newnham accepted with Wild Irish Rover (Sky Racing Maiden Handicap, 1300m), Shadow Vampire (Pioneer Services Class 1 Handicap, 1000m), and Chenin (XXXX Gold F&M Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1500m), but says the former is most unlikely to kick off a new campaign, having drawn awkwardly.

Wild Irish Rover is an early $3.70 favorite, Shadow Vampire ($3.40) is second favorite behind Fashion Legend ($1.95), and Chenin ($4.20) is second favorite behind Thinking Rain ($2.90).

Josh Parr, Newnham’s most successful jockey with 86 winners, partners both Shadow Vampire and Chenin.

The lightly-raced stablemates both strike relatively small fields, and the latter has been withdrawn from a Rosehill Gardens engagement today to head to the provincial meeting.

Newnham has taken a line through the form from Shadow Vampire’s breakthrough success at Kembla Grange on November 1 to give him a great show of repeating the dose as he rises in grade.

“The two placegetters he beat in that 1000m Maiden have both won since,” he said last night.

“Runner-up Iowna Merc won easily at Kembla Grange last Saturday, and third placegetter Capital Theatre was a good winner at Newcastle today, so the form is working out well.

“Shadow Vampire was an excellent fourth on debut on the Kensington track back in May before a break, and the Kembla race was his third this time in work.

“He is the type of horse who has to be held up for one run at them at the end.

“Shadow Vampire did a good job winning at Kembla earlier in the month, and I’ve been happy with his subsequent progress.

“I expect him to run well again.”

Newnham has opted to take blinkers off Chenin, and is prepared to overlook the Pierro mare’s first-up defeat when fifth of six runners in a Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m) against her own sex on the Kensington track on October 26.

“It was a Soft 7 that day, and she doesn’t particularly like wet ground, even though it was a firming Soft 6 when she won an 1800m Maiden at her only start at Hawkesbury in March.

“Going back to provincial company tomorrow along with a track where she has recorded her sole win to date from six starts are definite advantages.

“Like Shadow Vampire, Chenin has trained on well since her Kensington resumption.”

Newnham thought enough of Chenin to try her as a late three-year-old in both the Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in April (where she encountered a heavy surface) during The Championships, and the Listed Princess Stakes (1640m) at Doomben later that month, where she again had to race on a heavy track and finished sixth to Canadian Dancer.

Another Group 1 winning trainer Ben Smith had hoped to make his return at the Hawkesbury fixture after a lengthy stint through disqualification on the sidelines.

Now based at Kembla Grange, Smith has taken over the training of last start Kembla Grange winner Delicately, but has decided not to run her in the Lander Toyota Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap (1300m).

Smith, whose last runners were Muswellbrook placegetters Elaborate and Aberration on September 9, 2018, clinched Group 1 triumphs in 2018 with In Her Time (The Galaxy at Rosehill Gardens) and El Dorado Dreaming (Sires Produce Stakes at Randwick).

Runaway trainers’ premiership leader James Cummings (10 wins already this season) has two runners tomorrow, and stable apprentice Zac Lloyd will ride them.

Mr Wallace is a $4.40 favorite for the Maiden Plate (1100m), and Rosovo is at $7 for the Blacktown Workers Club Group CG&E Benchmark 64 Handicap (1500m).

Mr Wallace was runner-up in a Gosford Maiden (1100m) on October 27 at his first start since last December, and Rosovo has been placed at both Hawkesbury starts since resuming, on October 20 and November 3.

Whilst his master has double the number of Hawkesbury winners than any other trainer in the first three and a half months of the season, Zac Lloyd is also going great guns and shares top spot in the apprentices’ title with Tyler Schiller (five wins apiece).

. The rail is in the TRUE position, and course manager Rick Johnston this morning posted a “Soft 5“ rating. A total of 30mm of rain has been recorded in the past seven days (nil in the last 24 hours), and 23mm of irrigation has been put on the course proper in the same period, and again nil in the last 24 hours.

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