History working for and against Group 1 duo for Newnham
History gives trainer Mark Newnham cause for both optimism and concern as he prepares to launch simultaneous Epsom Handicap and The Metropolitan bids at Randwick this Saturday.
The final fields for both Group 1s were declared on Tuesday and Newnham has classy mare Harmony Rose lining up in the Epsom while stablemate Spirit Ridge carries topweight in The Metropolitan.
Harmony Rose is set to provide the cause for optimism despite drawing inside just one runner in gate 16 of 17 for the $1.5m mile.
History has looked kindly upon horses that have drawn out in Epsoms.
Seven of the past eight winners of the race have drawn in a double digit gates including last year’s winner Probabeel, which jumped from barrier 15
“You go back through the history of the Randwick miles and it’s never had a huge bearing on the result,” Newnham said.
“The thing working in her favour is there is speed either side of her.
“It will give us the option of working forward with Ashman (barrier 17) and Riodini (barrier 15), which look like the speed in the race, and you've got 600m to make the decision at Randwick.”
It will be up to lightweight jockey Andrew Adkins to make those decisions on raceday where Harmony Rose will carry just 50.5kg.
The Group 1 placed four-year-old is heading to the Epsom Handicap second-up after finishing sixth in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Stakes where she found trouble in the run.
“She got into an awful spot after missing the start and was a bit fresh in the barriers,” Newnham said.
“She was just in a position where she was crowded up and only saw a bit of daylight that last little bit but she was strong through the line.
“I think she has come on well from the run.
“Second up last time she was placed in a Group 1 mile only just beaten by Lion’s Roar and Mo’unga so that form reads pretty well.”
Harmony Rose is rated a $21 chance with TAB for the Epsom with stablemate Spirit Ridge listed at $17 for The Metropolitan.
But Spirit Ridge will need to overcome a mountain of history to win The Metropolitan after the son of Nathaniel was handed a 58kg impost in the 2400m event.
Only one horse in the past 50 years has carried more than 57.5kg to win The Metropolitan with Ming Dynasty lumping 59.5kg all the way back in 1978.
“He’s been set a nearly impossible task,” Newnham said.
“You don’t see horses win very often in Metrops with 58kg and he’s carrying that after only winning a couple of Group 3s.
“It tells you it’s either not a solid race or he’s treated poorly at the weights and I tend to think it’s the latter.
“The horse is going very well but it’s nearly mission impossible.”
Spirit Ridge beat just one runner home in his last start in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes but Newnham expects he will improve substantially if he gets firmer ground on the weekend.
Josh Parr has been booked to ride.