Debut looms again for Highly Influential

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October 17, 2017 - 02:33 PM

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Highly Influential is finally poised to race after a possible move to Hong Kong and then a traffic jam en route to Warwick Farm conspired to delay his debut.

Trainer Mark Newnham initially planned to run the gelding at Gosford on October 5, but Highly Influential was subject to sale negotiations which never got across the line.

He then targeted a maiden handicap at Warwick Farm last Wednesday but the horse float was caught in traffic after an accident on the M5 and Highly Influential was one of three horses who had to be scratched.

Newnham is hoping it is third time lucky for Highly Influential who he took over training when James Cummings joined Godolphin.

Highly Influential, to be ridden by Blake Shinn, is the only first time starter in Wednesday's Schweppes Plate (1250m) and Newnham is cautious about his chances because of the gap between his last trial and race day.

The three-year-old last trialled on September 25 at Randwick where he beat Godolphin colt Siam and the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained filly Cuban Sizzle.

"The only doubt I have is it's now quite a long time between having a trial and a run," Newnham said.

"That's not ideal but he's going well."

Newnham was encouraged by his trial form considering Siam and Cuban Sizzle then ticked off their maidens at Wyong and Kembla Grange respectively.

"In his trials he's shown good racing manners," he said.

"He relaxes well. He'll jump and put himself right up on the pace."

Godolphin filly Epidemic was the TAB's $2.40 favourite on Tuesday as she attempts to record her first win at her third start.

Newnham inherited a batch of unraced two and three-year-olds from Gooree Stud when Cummings started as Godolphin's head trainer in July and Highly Influential measures up so far.

"He's showing above average ability and we'll take him through his grades," Newnham said.

Madonnica is also in the field for Waterhouse and Bott after the filly also missed Warwick Farm last week because of the accident.

The training partnership also has unbeaten gelding Stonebrook aiming for his fourth win in a Benchmark 75 Handicap (1550m)as the early $2.10 favourite.