Trainer Mark Newnham would consider it a feather in his cap if he can leave for Hong Kong in a couple of months having brought Sunshine Rising back to the winner’s stall.
It’s been well documented that the nine-year-old, who has had three different names to date, has battled tendon issues and was retired from Hong Kong in early 2021 before Newnham took him on in the second half of last year.
On the back of two Group 3 placings on end, Newnham said Sunshine Rising goes into the Group 3 $200,000 Furphy Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) with a big chance to post his first win since October 2019.
“It’s an achievement to get him back to the races,’’ he said.
“And to have him racing well and having a zest for racing. I’d be very happy if he was to have a nice race win against his name.
“Under the conditions of the race he’s well in for a horse of his rating and he’s not taking on an Anamoe. His work is good and he is in good condition so I expect him to run well.”
Sunshine Rising, $4.40 with TAB on Thursday, raced as Rise High in Hong Kong and aside from eight wins he recorded Group 1 placings in the Chater Cup and Hong Kong Cup of 2019.
He had 13 months off the scene before his final Hong Kong start, a fifth behind Golden Sixty in the Group 1 Stewards Cup (1600m) in January 2021.
In four starts for Newnham as Sunshine Rising, after trialling under the name Landfall, he’s been beaten three lengths or under and his last start third behind Protagonist in the Sky High Stakes (2000m) told Newnham a win isn’t too far away – if he still wants it.
The gelding ran the second fastest last 600m of the race, in 33.93 (Punter’s Intelligence), after he took off before the turn and made it within half a length of the winner by the 200m before his run levelled out but he was still coming on the line.
“I would say he peaked on his run the other day just being a month between runs and going up to 2000m,’’ Newnham said.
“He looked the winner with 150m to go and whether it was just that or whether he’s just lacking a killer punch at his age we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Newnham is adamant King Frankel’s Sydney Cup preparation is on target and is hoping he gets that confirmation in the Group 1 $1.5m Kia Tancred Stakes (2400m) on Saturday.
The import won the Parramatta Cup first-up then ran fourth in the same race as Sunshine Rising two weeks ago and Newnham said the horse might have been left a little flat second up at 2000m.
“He probably just lacked speed at certain stages of the race,’’ he said.
“He’s getting ready for a two mile race and already having a run at 1900m so I wasn’t surprised.
“The two parts of the race where he was a touch dour were the first furlong where he didn’t have enough gate speed to get into a more forward position. And the 600m when the pace quickened he probably was a little flat footed and then he was strong late.”
King Frankel, with Tyler Schiller riding, has just 50kg in the $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup.
The Tancred will see him carry 59kg and for that reason Newnham doesn’t expect anything more than for the gelding to run his usual consistent race and have him close to peak fitness for the 3200m.
“At weight-for-age he’s disadvantaged with his rating but for him it’s the right lead up for the Sydney Cup,’’ he said.
“I’d say he’s on target anyway, what he does on Saturday will only tell me he’s fit enough to run two miles. He’ll run well because he’s in good form and will appreciate the step up in distance.”
– Racing NSW