Mark Newnham has credited a superb ride by his former stable apprentice Robbie Dolan as the impetus for import Spirit Ridge to claim his most important win.
Dolan had the former English stayer positioned on the fence and behind the speed in Saturday’s Group Three Summer Cup (2000m) but had to push his way out of a pocket halfway up the straight.
When he did get clear, Spirit Ridge fended off a concerted challenge from Hugh Bowman aboard Best Of Days to land his first black-type success in the Randwick feature.
Newnham was thrilled to see Dolan in the spotlight and said his former apprentice, who is now a fully fledged rider, had to continue working hard to maintain his position in the competitive Sydney jockey ranks.
“He’s at that stage of his career where it is hard-going,” Newnham said.
“He’s up against the best jockeys and the top three or four (horses) in the market in each race go to the same three or four guys.
“But these are the sort of opportunities he will get.
“You put him in a nice race with a horse with a lightweight and he gave him a 10 out of 10 ride.”
Spirit Ridge gave Newnham his second Sydney feature this month after Greysful Glamour took out the Villiers Stakes two weeks ago.
The mare paid the price for that victory with equal top weight of 59kg in the Summer Cup and finished a brave fifth.
Newnham was chuffed with her effort and said she had earned a break ahead of the autumn.
“With the 59 kilos and slightly (rain) affected track she couldn’t quite get that break on them,” Newnham said.
“But she has run her heart out and halfway up the straight I thought she was still going to win.”
Newnham said Spirit Ridge would tackle another stakes race over the summer, naming the January Cup in two weeks and the Australia Day Cup as the options.
“He’s only had the four starts here, he’s improved each time and he got in his right race today and a good ride got him home,” Newnham said.
“He is quite a promising stayer but so far we have been nice and patient with him and the best is still ahead.”
Dolan believes Spirit Ridge has come back bigger and stronger this preparation and has all the attributes to make a handy stayer.
“He’s got everything you want in an import. He’s got plenty of gate speed and he’s got the good attitude as well,” Dolan said.
“Hughie Bowman came up beside me on one of Godolphin’s and he really stuck his head down and won well. He’s definitely an exciting horse.”
Starting a $3.60 favourite, Spirit Ridge scored by a head over Best Of Days ($6.50) with Black On Gold ($16) closing late for third.