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Mark Newnham excited ahead of his first Wagga Cup

Mark Newnham is looking forward to saddling up his first Wagga Cup runner, confirming Spirit Ridge will head to the country feature in preference to the Gosford Cup.

The horse was an acceptor for both races but will chase the $200,000 purse on Friday after drawing barrier 17 for the Gosford Cup a day later.

“It’s a big track and his wins in Australia have been at Randwick so I thought the track at Wagga would suit him better than Gosford,” Newnham said.

“When he drew the outside barrier at Gosford, it just made it an easy choice.

“I’ve had a couple of runners in the Wagga Guineas, but I haven’t had a runner in the Cup or the sprint.”

Spirit Ridge has not raced since struggling to run out the two miles of the Sydney Cup last month but his previous form was outstanding.

He was edged out by Toffee Tongue in the Sky High Stakes and finished a game fifth to Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet at weight-for-age level in the Group 1 Tancred Stakes.

Newnham has backed off his work to freshen him up for a distance drop to 2000 metres on Friday and after riding him in a trackwork gallop earlier this week, the former jockey is convinced he can bounce back.

“His first two runs back were in better company than this, it will just come down to whether he has freshened up well enough in the three weeks, which I think he has,” Newnham said.

“He gets blinkers back on, he will roll forward into the first four or five which will give him a good chance.”

Nash Rawiller has the ride on Spirit Ridge, who has drawn barrier eight and will carry 60kg.

Messene was the last horse to carry a similar impost to victory, lumping 59kg when he won in 2016


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