Dual Australian Group 1 winner Shadow Hero is set to return to original trainer Mark Newnham in a bid to recapture winning form.
Hong Kong-based owner Edmond Lee confirmed to Racing.com on Thursday of his intention to return Shadow Hero to Newnham.
Shadow Hero started an $8.30 chance to win last Sunday’s HK$24m (A$4m) BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) but after settling third, dropped out to finish twelfth of 14 starters, beaten nine lengths.
Rider Zac Purton could not offer any explanation for the disappointing performance and a veterinary inspection of Shadow Hero by Hong Kong Jockey Club officials displayed no significant findings.
His uncompetitive effort in Hong Kong’s premier four-year-old race was enough for Lee to terminate the Hong Kong stint after five consecutive defeats.
Newnham prepared Shadow Hero to four wins and two minor placings from 11 Australian starts, each of his victories achieved in stakes company.
The son of Pierro won the Listed The Phoenix (1630m) at his second start and then returned the following spring and claimed the G3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) and G1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
Shadow Hero won the $1m G1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) in March 2020 and after finishing fourth the following month in the $1.1m G1 Australian Derby (2400m) was acquired by Lee to race in Hong Kong for David Hayes.
Shadow Hero acquisition came at a cost, a reported multi-million-dollar price tag, and therefore expectations were high he would make his mark in Hong Kong.
Purton rode Shadow Hero in each of his Hong Kong runs, where he made ground encouragingly from rearward positions at his first two starts over 1400 and 1600 metres at the end of last year. However little went right during the three legs of Hong Kong’s Classic Series for four-year-olds.
Shadow Hero raced outside the lead and weakened into fifth in the HK$12m (A$2m) Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) won by Excellent Proposal on January 24. A post-race vet inspection discovered he was galloped on his right hind leg and bled internally.
The Australian import had every chance from his trailing spot in the HK$12m (A$2m) Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) on February 21, finishing third beaten a neck by all-the-way winner Healthy Happy, before his latest defeat in the Hong Kong Derby.
Lee has enjoyed Group 1 success in Australia in recent years, namely through Redkirk Warrior and Harlem, dual winners of the Newmarket Handicap and Australian Cup respectively with both horses prepared by Lindsay Park Racing.
Newnham has rapidly risen through the ranks since taking out his own trainers’ licence in early 2016. Shadow Hero’s Randwick Guineas win was Newnham’s fourth and most recent Group 1 success but he has attracted widespread praise for his prolific strike rate in Sydney’s ultra-competitive training scene.
Ahead of Thursday’s meeting on Randwick’s Kensington track, Newnham shares equal third in the Sydney Trainers’ Premiership alongside Bjorn Baker with 34 wins for the 2020/21 season and has the best strike rate of any top-10 trainer, striking at 22.7 per cent.