Once the right-hand man in one of Sydney’s most powerful stables, Mark Newnham is surprised how much he has enjoyed starting from scratch.
Former assistant to Gai Waterhouse, Newnham decided to leave Tulloch Lodge earlier this year to establish his own base at Warwick Farm.
“I’m enjoying it even more than I thought I would,” Newnham said.
With 140 horses in work when he worked for Waterhouse, Newnham said he found it hard to devote time to any particular horse.
“I ride every horse in the stable at one stage of the week. I couldn’t do that with 140,” Newnham said.
Lanciato is the horse carrying the hopes of the new stable during Sydney’s winter.
The former New Zealander be trying to crack it for a city win for the third time in Saturday’s benchmark 83 handicap at Canterbury.
“I think the three weeks between runs has been to his benefit and he has good drop in weight,” Newnham said.
Lanciato carried 61kg in his last start at Rosehill over 1500m on July 2 and drops to 55 on Saturday.
He finished seventh but was less than a length from the winner in his last start and was a narrow second first-up at the same track on June 18.
Newnham will walk the Canterbury track on Friday because he has reservations about running Lanciato on a heavy surface, but believes the horse performs well in soft going.
“I haven’t got many horses to take to the races so it’s nice to have a genuine Saturday-class horse like him,” Newnham said.
More horses trained by Newnham will start to emerge in the coming weeks and his team of two-year-olds will appear deeper into next season.
The former jockey believes riding his own work is one thing he can use to his advantage in the tough competition of Sydney racing.
“Tommy Smith and Bart Cummings never rode their own work but someone like John Size up until a couple of years ago did,” Newnham said.
“If it’s something you enjoying doing and it’s one of your strengths you might as well use it.”
Lanciato shares $3.80 favouritism with Gamblers Blues for Saturday, while the Chris Waller-trained McCreery is on the next line at $4.60.