Harmony Rose good enough to take on the boys in Randwick Guineas
There is an art that draws Mark Newnham to training staying fillies, so when Harmony Rose walked into the stable last year, his mind started ticking over.
She was never going to succeed as a two-year-old but there was an athletic staying frame that promised to improve with age.
Newnham’s thoughts turned to the Australian Oaks, a race he has been close to winning a couple of times, working backwards from there to come up with a program. He admits the Randwick Guineas, where Harmony Rose will challenge the boys on Saturday, was a key part of the plan.
“When you have a staying type, particularly a filly, the planning is very important, once you know they have that talent,” Newnham said.
“When she arrived you just had to look at her and you knew she would get over ground and mature into a very good three-year-old.
“She just reminded me of Scarlet Dream, which ran into Verry Elleegant in the Oaks, so had to settle for second. So I started thinking Oaks and Guineas.”
Newnham is still looking for his first Oaks victory, but when he sets a filly for a classic, they get close to the mark - and he knows when he has the right type.
“I have had four runners in Oaks for two seconds, a third and a fourth. I have had fillies like Greysful Glamour and Scarlet Dream, and she just reminded me of them,” he said.
“I knew she was never a two-year-old type, so I planned to have those runs in the spring knowing they would help have her ready for the autumn.
“I looked at the Oaks and then worked back and the Guineas was the race that fitted better into a preparation than the fillies mile race at Kembla next week.”
Harmony Rose, a striking grey, raced up to Newnham’s opinion and her good looks winning her first two before being a runner-up when she got to 1600m in town.
But it was her return where she confirmed her place in the Guineas stretching away from a handy field over 1400m and had heavyweight jockey Josh Parr prepared to get down to 54.5 kilos to ride her in the Guineas.
“I said to Josh you will be back on her next start if don’t ride her in the Guineas but he just told me I’ll do the weight for her,” Newnham said.
“It was the way she won the other day that was so strong and we know that she is going to get better with each step up in trip. Josh thinks she is just going to improve with every run and he didn’t want to miss out.
“The mile against the boys is a good test for her, and fillies have a good record in this race. They don’t take this path too often but when fillies run in this race they always run well, particularly strong fillies like her.
“I had Nakeeta Jane ran third in it a couple of years ago to The Autumn Sun and although this filly is different to her I think she deserves her chance at group 1 now and has a similar sort of chance.”
Harmony Rose is still considered a $17 chance with bookmakers, which have unbeaten kiwi Aegon at $2.40.
Earlier in the afternoon, Newnham will use the Challenge Stakes as tune-up for smart sprinter Splintex for the Galaxy after a couple of impressive barrier trials.
“He is much stronger this time and we are targeting that group 1 in the Galaxy and he always gets better with racing,” Newnham said. “He is taking on some of the fastest horse in the country in Nature Strip and Eduardo, but I think he could make them work.”