New training force says Chris Waller has got it all wrong
Mark Newnham has been one of Sydney’s top coaches for several seasons, but he has grown into a leading coach who has saddled the third top winners in NSW this season.
He’s only trained fewer winners than Chris Waller and Kris Lees, which means he has more wins in NSW than Godolphins James Cummings and Team Snowden.
It was a remarkable feat considering he’s ridden far fewer runners than these two powerhouses.
He has a very good chance of winning the main race on Saturday in Randwick, the Listed January Cup (2000 m), with three strong hopes – Spirit Ridge, Gone Bye and Fulmina.
Throw in the formidable Big Parade in race six and it could be another great day for the local trainer.
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Newnham warned players about withdrawing Big Parade before coming out in Randwick three weeks ago and winning after finishing sixth as a $ 1.90 hope.
“It was obvious the other day that he’s settling in a lot better without blinkers,” said Newnham.
Trainers Chris Waller and Mark Newnham have different views on the start times of the trackworks.
“It (first-up) was a combination of a coach and rider’s mistake at the first-up in Kembla. As a gelding, I didn’t trust the horse enough to run it blindfolded because it wasn’t one hundred percent real and Josh was asking too much of it.
“He relaxed well at the last start and showed a good pace so hopefully we’re on the same path.”
In addition to being a leading coach, Newnham is a well respected coach who has his or her opinion on the sport and is one of them if the trackwork should begin later.
Newnham is against delayed track work.
Chris Waller believed that sport must adopt more modern work practices or risk alienating a younger generation of potential workers.
“Who really wants their children to start work at 3 am or have to drive to work or take public transport at this time,” said Waller.
“And who actually wants that? Only those who “tried it out” and had to do it.
“But we’re not going to bring new people into the game unless they have a crazy love for horses and races, and that will be rare.
Waller has been saying similar things for a few years now, but Newnham thinks he’s in the minority when it comes to asking for later morning start times.
He doesn’t think it will bring new people into the sport.
“I don’t think that’s the answer. I don’t know what they’re relying on, ”Newnham said.
“They think they’ll have a sudden influx of employees, but we’re not doing anything to promote racing as a career.
“I don’t see how the change in hours will suddenly change anything. If they were changed, you wouldn’t suddenly see eight people at your gate looking for a job.
“I’ve never had someone who wanted to start working in a stable and who left when they were told the hours.”
Newnham said its staff liked to work 3:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and then 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and were actually worried that they would be forced to start an hour later.
The tracks open at 4am and there has been a recent compromise not to start working on the lawn before 5am.
Team Hawkes doesn’t want earlier start times at Rosehill, and the Randwick coaches basically agree that things should stay the same.
Newnham hopes Big Parade can continue its recent success this weekend.
“We had a Randwick coaching meeting five months ago and only two coaches wanted later start times,” Newnham said.
“I don’t care what hours they work, but I still want to work my hours.
“If late working hours are the answer, within a year or two these trainers will have the best employees and we won’t.
“In the UK they also have a staffing problem and a lot of them don’t start until 7am so it’s not the start time. We’re not hiring enough young people to work in the industry. “
While Waller believes that later tee times are the answer to attracting younger people to racing, Newnham believes the industry could look at other sports and how they spark the next generation’s imagination.
For example, how many rugby league players tell stories when their heroes once visited them at school and inspired them even more to pursue their football dreams.
Jockeys and coaches have proven that they would be ready if a program was put in place.
Check out the long lines in Canterbury on a Friday night (pre-COVID) and see the dozen of fans waiting for an autograph.
“I don’t know of any programs where we (industry reps) go to schools or pony clubs or go out into the bush to see kids who might want to get into racing,” Newnham said.
“You never have a jockey, trainer or farrier going out to see children. There are so many other positions in racing too.
“When I started we didn’t have any equine physical, race or media managers. There were very few blood stick agents. “
“I think TJ Smith had the same secretary and Bart was the same for 40 years and they were her office staff.
“There are so many more opportunities in racing now than a groom or a trackwork driver, but we’re not doing anything to encourage that.
Newnham says racing is a great career, but right now it’s losing opportunities to attract young people.
“People don’t know enough about work in racing.”
One change Newnham believes possible is the dominance of foreign guests in Australia.
“The guys are way stronger now than they were 10 years ago because of imports,” Newnham said.
“The imports are better stayers than our horses. It makes me feel that we should pay attention to our weight scale so that our horses can cope better at a distance.
“The pedigree of international endurance horses is stronger than ours.”
But things could change because of the cost of getting an international horse into an Australian stable now.
Newnham said only the really good are a good investment here.
“It’s not as cheap to bring horses here as it used to be, and they are very expensive to buy,” he said.
“I was considering buying a pair from the UK this year and they were way more than I was willing to pay for them.
“Spirit Ridge was very good value at 100,000 guineas, so it was somewhere around the $ 200,000 mark, so you have to be a Saturday horse for that price.
“I think there can be a turning point. We are bringing enough horses here now to affect the bloodlines and a lot of our races are worth a lot over 1,600m so it can be done. ”
Newnham also urged Racing NSW to hold a few more 3200 meter races later this year to help develop true stayers in the country.
Newnham says there needs to be more two mile races in Australia if there is to be any real improvement in our stayers.
“I have a horse right now called Skymax that would scream for a two-mile race if it were there,” he said.
“We could do a lot more. We need to encourage people to change their mindset so that this is not just about two year olds. “
Sprint Ridge is an example of a European import well worth the risk, and it’s a strong $ 3.30 favorite for Saturday’s Listed January Cup (2000m).
But he is one of the few that offers great value for import.
“At an auction that was only last October there were horses that I thought would be of similar value to him and they were twice as expensive,” Newnham said.
“They went through the roof to buy, so there are now opportunities for us to breed and buy horses with a lasting pedigree here.
“I went to see horses at the Magic Millions sale that I hope will end up under the radar for pedigree because they look like three year old guys with a mile and up.
“They’re a lot cheaper than taking on the stallion syndicates who buy horses for over $ 500,000.”
Spirit Ridge, a six-year-old Nathaniel, is battling for his second straight win on Saturday after winning the Summer Cup two weeks ago, and if he wins or goes very well he’ll book his ticket to a race in the Fall Carnival.
“I’ve had it for 12 months now and I had a plan from the start,” said Newnham.
“This preparation was always the one that we would do a little more with him. He’ll probably have a few weeks off after Saturday and then freshen up for the fall. “