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Mark Newnham getting in the spring Spirit

The Metropolitan will be the spring target for progressive stayer Spirit Ridge, who kicks off his preparation in the Premier’s Cup at Kembla Grange.

The former European tuned up for his return with a solid barrier trial win at Randwick on Friday and is carrying residual fitness from a winter carnival campaign in Brisbane.

Trainer Mark Newnham expects him to be competitive in Saturday’s 2000 metre race, as he was in the autumn when edged out over the same distance first-up in the Sky High Stakes.

“First-up last prep he just got beaten on the line in the Sky High at Rosehill over 2000 and he’s in similar sort of form,” Newnham said.

“He stayed up in Brisbane (after the carnival) and just had a freshen up so he will resume next week in the Premier’s Cup and Josh (Parr) will ride.”

Spirit Ridge was a solid fifth in the Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) in the autumn and was unlucky when dead-heating for second in the Wagga Cup.

He went on to claim a Group 3 win during the Brisbane winter and was given a break after finishing seventh to Zaaki in the Q22.

While Newnham has earmarked the Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick in October as the horse’s main aim, he is yet to settle on the best pathway to that race.

“He’ll either go on to the Newcastle Cup after Saturday, or the Kingston Town. We’ll just wait and see,” he said.

Stablemate Marway also impressed with his effort to finish second to Everest contender Lost And Running in a Randwick trial on Friday and Newnham is happy with how the speedy galloper has returned to work.

Marway is likely to resume in a benchmark race on September 11 and if he performs to expectations, will be given his chance in black-type company.

“He did a really good job last time in getting through to the Wagga Town Plate,” Newnham said.

“He probably won’t run until 11 September in a benchmark 88 and we’ll see if he can make the leap into stakes grade after that.”


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