Newnham itching to make his mark in magic Mile
MOVE over Golden Slipper. Saturday's $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick is Sydney's greatest race.
Despite the Golden Slipper being regarded as one of the 'big four' races on the Australian calendar (alongside the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup), trainer Mark Newnham thinks the Doncaster Mile trumps it.
He's trying to win it, in just his second year of training, with $18 chance Lanciato.
"I've been going to the Doncaster since I was a little kid and I'd say the Doncaster is the most iconic Sydney race," Newnham said.
"As someone who has followed racing their entire life, it's the race you can most easily identify with.
"There's horses in the Doncaster with history whereas the Golden Slipper horses have had just a couple of starts and only been racing few a few months. There's a lot of aspects to it that make it a great race and it's stacked with quality. It's a great horses' race."
This year's edition is once again full of talent and Chris Waller has six runners, including Rosehill Guineas winner D'Argento, who gets into the race with just 50kg on his back after stewards confirmed jockey Corey Brown will ride the grey 1kg over its allotted 49kg.
Randwick Guineas winner Kementari remained the $3.50 favourite with Ladbrokes after it drew gate two, just outside Epsom Handicap winner Happy Clapper who will jump from one.
Newnham was on hand at Tuesday's barrier draw at Randwick and when Lanciato was drawn to come out of gate 13, he had no concerns.
A winner of his past two starts, including the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket (1400m), Lanciato has shown he is ready for the big stage. A second placing behind star sprinter Redzel in a barrier trail on March 26 has him primed to produce a career-best run.
"He's at the top of his game and is going at least as well as he was at Newcastle," Newnham said. "His trial was pretty good.
"Any time you're taking ground off Redzel, you're going well and his sectionals last start were outstanding.
"The barrier draw doesn't make a big difference to him due to his racing pattern and he'll be in the last three or four horses. I am happier that it's a capacity field, though, because it means less traffic."
Newnham feels the Pat Webster-trained Happy Clapper is the one to beat due to his proven form, which includes a close second to the champion Winx last start in the George Ryder Stakes, but he does have to lug 57kg, while Lanciato has just 51kg.
"The weight won't worry Happy Clapper," Newnham said. "He's battle-hardened and his form at Randwick is exceptional. He's run really well in all the big miles at Randwick and that kind of established form won't change."
The plan is simple for Lanciato. Drop out the back and run on down the outside of the field in the straight.
"If he can reproduce that (Newcastle Newmarket run) he'll be in the finish and he'll love a Randwick mile," Newnham said. "He's had everything fall in his lap during his past three starts as far as luck goes but with his turn of foot he's also been able to make his own luck."
Meanwhile, co-trainer Natalie Young is backing Belfast to improve off his eye-catching fifth placing in the Tulloch Stakes (2000m) and be a major player in Saturday's $2m Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.
The Teofilo colt drew wide at Tuesday's barrier draw in gate 17 and Kerrin McEvoy will have to produce one of his staying gems to get his horse over the line in Saturday's classic.
The Trent Busuttin/Natalie Young stable also have Main Stage and Salsamor in the race but Belfast is the top pick.
"Belfast is the toughest of the three," Young said. "You could back him up three days later and he'd come back and win.
"Jon Snow won the Tulloch Stakes last year and came out and won the Derby and Belfast has got the best finish. He hit the line great and the form is always good out of the Tulloch.
"We've freshened up Main Stage a little bit and just gave him a few 600m sprints and it's really perked him up.
"The way he's been hitting the line, I don't have any doubt he'll get the distance and so will the other two. They've all thrived since being here in the warmer weather."
Young said the Murray Baker/Andrew Forsman stable will provide stiff opposition with four runners - Vin De Dance ($9), Weather With You ($21), Mission Hill ($11) and Mongolian Marshal ($17).
"Murray Baker is the Derby king, you can't beat him," Young said.
"I wind him up telling him one day I'll be the Derby queen, but he's the best in the game when it comes with the derbies."