Newnham sets sights on Oaks breakthrough

Sydney trainer Mark Newnham has a reputation of an astute trainer of three-year-old fillies and on Thursday he is aiming to score a breakthrough win in the $1 million VRC Oaks (2500m) at Flemington.

Newnham’s runner Miravalle will be out to end a frustrating but rewarding run in fillies’ classic races in recent years.

“I’m overdue to win one,” Newnham said. “I’ve had three Oaks runners for three placegetters.

“Greysful Glamour ran second in this race two years ago, Scarlet Dream ran second in the Australian Oaks last year and Quintessa ran third in that race this year.

“The difference between Miravalle and those fillies is she’s a true stayer they weren’t. A true stayer with a bit of class, they had a fair bit of class but were not genuine stayers.”

Miravalle tuned up for Thursday’s Group 1 assignment with a hard closing fourth in Saturday’s Group 2 Wakeful Stakes – an effort that had jockey Craig Williams, a two-time VRC Oaks winning jockey, declaring her a genuine Oaks contender.

“She’s got the Melbourne horses covered, all being well come Thursday,” Williams said post-race.

Miravalle and Craig Williams heads to the barrier for the Wakeful Stakes last Saturday. Photo: Scott Barbour/Racing Photos/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

That performance saw Miravalle’s price cut to $6.50 at behind clear favourite – another Sydney filly Montefilia at $1.85.

The David Payne-trained galloper goes into Thursday’s grand dinal the winner of her past two starts and conqueror of Miravalle in the Flight Stakes (1600m) and Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).

“The draws have worked terribly against her. In her last four runs she’s drawn eight of 11, seven of seven, 11 of 13 and 13 of 14,” Newnham said.

“This is the first time she’s drawn a barrier where you would hope she will be able to put herself into a winning position.

“If she’s going to beat the favourite, you’d think she gets her chance now.

“I’m respectful of Montefilia, absolutely. Her last two runs she’s produced two Group 1 winning performances and been strong through the line both times.

“She’s had the benefit of good gates, we’ve had none.

“You can only be happy with your own and I’m happy with mine.

“I’m hoping over 2500 metres mine is stronger. That’s what I’m banking on.

“From what we saw the other day it looks like mine is going to eat it up and I think a genuinely run race would help me.”

Montefilia winning the Spring Champion Stakes. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

The other asset Miravalle has going into Thursday’s contest according to her trainer is the experience gained by Williams when partnering the daughter of Redoute’s Choice last Saturday.

“She’s had experience around the track now, Craig (Williams) has had a ride on her and she’s done well out of Saturday,” Newnham said.

“She’s the sort of horse that I think it’s beneficial to have had experience on. She’s not a straight-forward ride.

“She’s a big lazy thing and I think when she gets in the position like she did last Saturday, it’s happened a couple of times, she actually gets detached from the field and half loses interest.

“I think from a better draw with horses racing up around her it will get her competitive juices flowing.

“I think you’ll see her travel better though the race.”

Newnham said the filly “bounced out of Saturday’s run”, ate up and spent Monday at the beach declaring “everything has gone well and we have no excuses”.

Originally published asNewnham aims to become the Oaks groom

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