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Newnham’s Oaks Dream on right track

mark newnham
Trainer Mark Newnham will rely on Scarlet Dream in the Australian Oaks at Randwick.

The Chris Waller-trained Verry Elleegant is an overwhelming Australian Oaks favourite but rival trainer Mark Newnham has identified one significant statistic he hopes can bring her undone.

“She hasn’t won on a dry track so I’m hoping that’s the chink in her armour,” Newnham said.

“If she’s as good on dry ground as she is on wet ground then we probably should be worried.”

Newnham’s Oaks contingent has been whittled down to one – Scarlet Dream.

He opted to bypass the race with Surround Stakes winner Nakeeta Jane in favour of the shorter Coolmore Legacy Stakes (1600m) on the same program and did not press on to the race with VRC Oaks runner-up Greysful Glamour.

But Scarlet Dream has shown her trainer enough to convince him she is a worthy contender for the $1 million fillies blue riband at Randwick on Saturday.

She proved her quality when she came from near-last to finish third behind Pohutukawa and Frankely Awesome in the Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) two starts ago then left her run too late when midfield on a heavy track in Verry Elleegant’s Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).

Newnham is convinced Scarlet Dream is better than her last effort suggests and expects her to relish a distance rise to 2400 metres, and the roomier expanses of Randwick.

“Her first two runs back were really good and her run at Kembla was super, she finished just on the heels of Pohutukawa and Frankely Awesome,” Newnham said.

“She was probably a little disappointing to the eye in the Vinery, but it was a heavy 10 and she was back last and had to come wide. It’s never a good recipe at Rosehill and certainly not when it’s heavy and rail out six metres.

“Her work on Monday was as good as you’d like and I’m sure a mile-and-a-half is what she’s been looking for, and a big track.”

Scarlet Dream was $19 on race eve with Verry Elleegant dominating betting at $1.60, ahead of the two fillies who filled the placings behind her in the Vinery – Frankely Awesome ($6) and Aristia ($8.50).

Frankely Awesome will take her place after being scratched from the Australian Derby on the first day of The Championships when she failed to recover from her Vinery run as quickly as trainer Kris Lees had expected.

She will have the services of Hugh Bowman who has an astonishing Oaks record winning five of the past 10, the past three in succession.

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