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Newnham keen to welcome back winning import

Time has been the friend of Mark Newnham’s smart import Spirit Ridge which resumes in Saturday’s Hungerford Hill Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m) at Newcastle.

Darby Racing teamed up with De Burgh Equine in last year’s Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale to secure Spirit Ridge for 100,000 guineas and the son of Nathaniel (Ire) made a winning start to life in Australia when scoring over 1550m on the Kensington track back in May.

“He jarred up a bit when he won and he just needed more time to acclimatise to the weather, the tracks, the whole works so we gave it to him,” Newnham said.

“I think he’s a Listed, Group 3 level horse. To me he’s a fast stayer, he’s not a plodder he’s a fast stayer.

“I think 2000 to a mile and half will see him most effective.

“He’ll come right into his own in the autumn so it’s going to be nice to give him a good summer campaign and hopefully he can work his way through a few more grades.

“There’s a lot of options for a horse like this up to a mile and a half over the next six or seven months so we just need to work out how many runs in he in the next couple of months or so and how far we keep going.

“Do we give him a let up after Christmas then have him back in March, April. I’ll be guided by the horse a bit.”

Newnhan said Spirit Ridge’s preparations for his return have gone to plan with four trials used to bring the lightly raced six-year-old to the mark where his trainer is happy to head back to the races.

“I like him. I like him a lot, a really nice horse and he’s come back well,” Newnham said.

“He’s a big horse and he’s going to parade big but I wouldn’t be too concerned with that because he’s very clean winded.

“I galloped him yesterday and his recovery is great but he looks like he still needs a run. I think his appearance might be a bit deceiving. He’s just a big horse but he’s got a great set of lungs.

“I’m not as concerned with his fitness as I am with his coat.

“Generally, they have a couple of lengths up their sleeve when their coats are like his is but I’m not putting Saturday’s race beyond him because he’s better than a (Benchmark) 78 horse, absolutely he is.

“Being a monster of a horse he can carry bigger weights than the average ones can and he’s already proven he can win with 61kg here and he did that with a lot of dead weight having been ridden by Robbie (Dolan) that day.

“Josh (Parr) rides him on Saturday so there isn’t going to be as much lead in the saddle.”

Spirit Ridge has been one of the better backed runners in early betting on Saturday’s stand alone meeting at Newcastle.

The Northern Hemisphere-bred gelding opened at $13 but has been a steady firmer into his current quote of $7.50.


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