Sydney Cup on the cards for Spirit Ridge
The six-year-old was even better yesterday than he was when taking out the Summer Cup (2000m) a fortnight ago and that’s what Newnham needed to see.
“I thought he had more improvement because last start when he won the Summer Cup he was probably only at his top for the last 150m,” Newnham said.
“He was locked away and only got out late.
“The best part of his race was on the line. In the autumn he’ll get up to a 2400m and maybe even the Sydney Cup might be on the agenda.”
Spirit Ridge boasts a regal heritage having been bred by Juddmonte Farm, the breeding arm of Khalid Abdullah of Frankel fame.
Spirit Ridge is a son of Galileo’s King George winner Nathaniel who has sired more than 400 winners, none of them better than Juddmonte’s own two-time Arc de Triomphe winner, Enable.
On top of that, Spirit Ridge’s dam - Tates Creek - was a mare of the highest order winning Grade One races at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita.
Spirit Ridge won his first race at Catterick in England beating Loveisili who was himself in action at Royal Randwick forty minutes after Newnham’s gelding completed the Summer Cup/January Cup double.
Jockey Robbie Dolan made all the right moves to give him the best possible run in transit.
“It was another peach of a ride from Robbie,” Newnham said.
“As we discussed prior to the race, if we could get that position it would be the ideal spot and, like last start, it all went as expected and he executed well.
“He loves a fight and with the way they ran it they probably turned it into a sprint and he was at his top at the top of the straight but you could see his staying qualities shine late.”
Dolan had the $3.10 favourite stalking the speed set by Wolfe and didn’t let Laure Me In pocket him in when it made a move around him at the 500m.
Once they got into the straight he let his horse’s superior staying ability take over and he didn’t look like losing over the final 200m.
He beat home a brave Wolfe by three quarters of a length with Mr Marathon Man ($26) running above his odds in third.
‘’It was tricky on paper, obviously with Wolfe and Gone Bye drawn on the inside of us, it was going to be fifty-fifty whether I was able to get into a position,’’ Dolan said.
“Thankfully I had a nice horse under me and he jumped out well and brought me into a position himself.
“Jay (Ford) came upside me on the bend and nearly caught me napping on the bend but he is the superior horse in the race and he is going to go onto bigger and better things than that.
‘’He really enjoys himself and that is a big asset for him. He loves his racing, he loves a day out, he pricks his ears everywhere you go and that is a good sign.
“He has got a really good turn of foot for a horse that gets over a bit of ground and I would definitely be looking forward to seeing him get over further.”
Spirit Ridge was quickly inserted as a $51 chance in the Sydney Cup in April and will obviously have to go to another level to claim a major.
“It’s a stronger race these days because it’s worth $2 million and we’re getting more of these horses in it and he’s still improving,” Newnham said.
“His level of improvement from the middle of last year until now has been great and I think he’s got more left in him. He was going away on the line.”
Newnham will take him to the Manion Cup on the way to the Sydney Cup.
“He’ll have a couple of weeks out. He’s a real European stayer who is clean winded and doesn’t take long to come up,” he said.
“Even off a two-week break I might kick him over an 1800m race. He showed today that further than 2000m isn’t going to be an issue.”