It has been 18 months since Mark Newnham stepped out on his own as a trainer and the hard work to establish a base and a team continues – but results are starting to flow.
Newnham, who was Gai Waterhouse's right-hand man for more than a decade, has had 29 winners, 13 this season at a strike rate of nearly 20 per cent, as he gets to a fully operational stable out of Randwick. Instead of depending on horses that started in other yards, he is starting to bring through his own stock.
"When I started, I missed all the sales, so really I didn't have that many horses. Most of them had started with someone else," Newnham said. "I had a goal to have 25 by last Christmas and we were able to get there in the last week of December, and we have doubled that in the last 12 months.
"This year is my first full year of the job and things are getting better all the time. We are at the numbers I want to be now."
There have been high points – Diamond Tathagata winning the Skyline Stakes and running in a Golden Slipper – and Newnham is sure to build on his two-year-old success as the babies he chose at the yearling sales start to come through in the next the couple of months.
He will have Carnina making her racecourse debut at Rosehill on Saturday after a couple of impressive barrier trial wins.
"It was actually bought by a Singaporean client and she has shown us a bit from the time she came into the stable," Newnham said.
"She is a big, strong filly that is a natural two-year-old type. She is a Magic Millions filly so she is there to try to qualify for that race and I have planned two runs into it.
"From what she has shown so far you would think she would be good enough to make it."
Carnina was slow out in her first trial but drove through to lead and she was strong enough to hold on to win. The second trial she was able to sit behind the speed and showed a turn of foot to sprint through and win the trial by 1¼ lengths.
"It is always difficult to win first-up at 1100 metres at Rosehill, especially when you are taking on a couple with race experience," Newnham said.
"I thought Gongs won very well at Canterbury and Orcein was good first-up and will improve. But my filly is ready to go but will be better for the run."
The Rosehill program offers an insight into the Newnham team with smart three-year-old Star Sensation taking on her own age as well and Lanciato returning from a spell.
Newnham has opted to use Koby Jennings on Carnina and Star Sensation after he recently got out of his time. Jennings has forged a good combination with Newnham since starting to ride work for him six months ago.
"He has a very good strike rate for me and reminds me a bit of Nash Rawiller," Newnham said. "He has his opportunities restricted a bit by weight but rides really well and is getting more confident with more wins.
"I think in the next couple of years he is going to make his mark."
Jennings won on Star Sensation on Melbourne Cup Day before she was beaten by her early burn in front under Blake Shinn two weeks ago at Rosehill.
"I actually offered the ride to Blake again [but he is suspended]. Koby knows her and rode her well at Randwick.
"The last run was probably a career best for her. Even after doing all the early work under 60.5 kilos she was still there at the end and only beaten a head and a neck.
"She drops five kilos on Saturday and if she reproduces that run I think she will win."
Newnham points out that the majority of his team are two-year-olds and three-year-olds, which means he is still in the development phase.
"It is a very young stable, so I'm looking forward to the next couple of years as they come through," Newnham said. "It is a case of being patient and letting things grow."
Lanciato provides the older part of the stable and was one of the first horses to join Newnham when he started out. The owner showed faith in Newnham's talent to give him the promising horse from New Zealand.
It took almost a year to find the winner's circle but he won two on end before a long spell, where he had bone chips removed. Newnham still rides his own work and it played a role in where Lanciato returned.
"I rode him a couple of weeks ago and he felt like he wasn't quite ready for 1300 metres first-up, so we waited for this race," he said.
"He was a bit unlucky to start with when we got him because he struck a lot of wet track, which he doesn't like. Once he got dry tracks he showed what he can do.
"He will get that type of ground on Saturday and I'm very happy with him going into it, but his form shows he is better second-up."