Newnham contemplates Derby path with star fillies

5 min read

By Bren O'Brien

The strength of the current crop of 3-year-old staying fillies plus the depth of his own stable in that area has trainer Mark Newnham considering a shot at the G1 Harrolds Australian Derby with one of his trio to run in Saturday's G1 Vinery Stud S. at Rosehill.

With Rosehill and Randwick Guineas winner The Autumn Sun (Redoute's Choice) heading to the paddock, the Derby looks a very open race with no clear-cut contender from the colts and geldings.

The Heineken 3 Australian Oaks, to be held seven days later, is also likely to be an open race, but the depth of the field is likely to be greater than the Derby judging by the strength of this week's Vinery Stud S.

Newnham boasts a trio of contenders for Saturday's Group 1 race, with G1 Surround S. winner Nakeeta Jane (So You Think {NZ}) joined by G1 VRC Oaks runner-up Greysful Glamour (Stratum) and emerging stayer Scarlet Dream (Sebring).

Nakeeta Jane winning the G1 Surround S.

Speaking to RSN, Newnham conceded that one of the three would likely backup into the Derby, with the other two to target the Oaks but he wouldn't make a decision on which direction they took until after Saturday.

"I dare say I will run one of them in the Derby, but I'll let the dust settle after the Vinery and that will decide its own seedings." - Trainer Mark Newnham

"I think this crop of 3-year old fillies is exceptional," he said. "There's good depth with the Melbourne fillies and the Melbourne form coming up against the good fillies here."

"I dare say I will run one of them in the Derby, but I'll let the dust settle after the Vinery and that will decide its own seedings. I'm happy with all three, but any decision on a Derby runner will be after Saturday."

The top seed

As things stand, Nakeeta Jane is the top seed for Newnham, despite having not been tested at the 2000m and beyond before.

"She's definitely the best horse, but she's never been to this trip before. Everything she does indicates she'll lap it up. Her pedigree says that, her conformation says that, the way she does her work you’d say for sure she'd eat up the ten furlongs," he said.

"But it’s a new pain barrier when you get there, I would say she would be top pick of mine at the moment."

Nakeeta Jane

Scarlet Dream is somewhat of a new kid on the block, having been taken through her classes in her first preparation before resuming with a strong-finishing second over 1400m at Randwick and then running third, again coming from well back, in the G3 Kembla Grange Classic last time out.

Newnham described the Sebring filly as a 'definite mile and a half horse' who would relish her first shot at the 2000m.

He said that while Greysful Glamour's form wasn't at the level of her stablemates this preparation, having finished 13th in the Surround S. and 10th in the Kembla Grange Classic, the fact she had been through an Oaks campaign already gave him confidence she was reaching her best.

The rivals

Chris Waller's filly Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed {NZ}) is currently the favourite for the Vinery Stud S. having won the G2 Phar Lap S. at her most recent start.

Verry Elleegant is currently the favourite

Newnham is wary of that filly's current form, but believes G1 VRC Oaks winner Aristia (Lonhro) who was third in the Phar Lap S. will take considerable improvement into Saturday's race.

"I went and had a look at them parade the other day and I thought Aristia had the most improvement of the fillies there." - Mark Newnham

"I went and had a look at them parade the other day and I thought Aristia had the most improvement of the fillies there. Her form at 2000m and then further is very good so I thought she was on the up," he said.

"All I can do is present these fillies in the best order they can be in. I've been very happy with their preparation so far. May the best horse win!"

Cummings confident in Pohutukawa

Another one of Newnham's rivals will be the Godolphin filly Pohutukawa (Medaglia D'Oro {USA}), who beat both Scarlet Dream and Greysful Glamour home at Kembla Grange last time out.

Her trainer James Cummings has plenty of faith in his filly, who will have a new jockey on Saturday.

"Kerrin McEvoy will take over from James McDonald, who had the luxury of choosing between Verry Elleegant and Pohutukawa and the market supported his judgement there," Cummings told Sky Sports Radio.

"But this filly is progressive and absolutely flying and it would take a very good filly to beat her on the weekend."

Cummings was set to attend Dubai World Cup night with Godolphin's owner Sheikh Mohammed but will now remain in Australia with Pohutukawa in the Vinery and Avilius (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) likely to tackle the G1 Kia Tancred S.