Newnham leaning to Kembla target with fillies

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Mark Newnham

Mark Newnham is leaning towards a Kembla Grange Classic start for fillies Miravalle and Darling Diamond but uncertainty over the weather forecast has him second guessing.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting showers and thunderstorms on Friday with the possibility of up to 25 mils of rain falling in parts of Sydney and even more near Wollongong.

As a precaution, Newnham has paid up for both fillies in Friday’s Group Three Kembla Grange Classic (1600m), along with the Group Two Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill a day later.

“They’re more likely to go to Kembla,” Newnham said.

“The acceptance for Saturday was more about weather conditions. I just needed a back-up plan in case something went wrong at Kembla, like them getting called off because they are tipping a lot of rain tomorrow.”

Fourth in both the Wakeful Stakes and VRC Oaks in the spring, Miravalle was never in contention when finishing down the track first-up in a fast-run Surround Stakes.

While Newnham would have liked to see the Australian Oaks-bound filly hit the line with more gusto, he said the strong tempo had her out of her comfort zone over the sprint journey.

He has since adjusted her training and expects a much bolder performance at Kembla.

“I’ve varied her training a bit in the last week, jumped her a couple of times and just tried to put some speed back in her legs,” Newnham said.

“She probably needs a little further but in that type of race on a nice big track like Kembla, I’d be disappointed if she’s not competitive.”

Newnham is also anticipating a good performance from Darling Diamond, who heads into the race at her third campaign start.

“She has needed the two runs and she did win third up last preparation. She will appreciate getting up to a mile,” he said.

A field of 11 will tackle the Kembla Grange Classic, including Thermosphere who will bid to give James Cummings a third successive win following victories by Pohutukawa in 2019 and Asiago last year.

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