“Robbie’s at that stage of his career where it is hard-going,” Newnham said. “He’s up against the best jockeys and the top three or four in the market in each race go to the same three or four guys.
“But these are the sort of opportunities he will get and he gave him a 10 out of 10 ride. We discussed before the race if he could give him a positive ride early, find [Greysful Glamour’s] back she will take him a long way in the race.
He is a great ride and he is just a proper racehorse.
Robbie Dolan on Spirit Ridge
“He just had to put the foot down late and it all worked out really well.”
Dolan followed Greysful Glamour to the home turn and then needed Spirit Ridge to show his talent late.
“He pinned his ears back [in the finish],” Dolan said. “Hughie [Bowman on Best Of Days] come to beat me and he had the momentum to beat me and [Spirit Ridge] still knuckled down and beat him.
“You get on these sort of horses every now and again and it was great to capitalise on it and great to do it for the boss as well.
“[Spirit Ridge] will get as far as you want [in terms of distance]. He is a great ride and he is just a proper racehorse. He flies the lids and puts himself in the race, switches off, and then has a fight at the end.”
The way Spirit Ridge found the line in the final stages indicated 2400m and beyond is probably where his future lies. He simply wanted to win, which amounted to a narrow head victory, but the nature of it made it more impressive.
“We wanted to see him put his heat out when it mattered,” Newnham said. “I want to get through this summer campaign and keep trying to get his rating up. He was disadvantaged today at the weights because he was out of his grade.”
Earlier, Wagga trainer Scott Spackman’s first thought after Rocket Tiger become his first city winner was a Wellington Boot but he admits he might have to lift his sights.
Rocket Tiger sat outside Vandoula Lass, which had been third favourite for the Magic MIlions, and was too tough for her to maintain an unbeaten record after a win on protest at Canberra at his debut.
“I told Kathy [O’Hara, jockey] before the race he is the type of little horse that if he gets his head in front he doesn’t like anything going past him,” Spackman said.
“He is the best horse I have had ever. He will go for a quick little break now and I will talk to the owner and he could go to a Black Opal or a Wellington Boot.
“But they were talking about the other horse as a Slipper chance, so I don’t know.”
It was a beautiful ride from O’Hara, who made it a winning double on Bowery Breeze later in the day. She believed the win was due to the traits his trainer briefed her about.
“Scott said he would find a lot off the bridle and he did,” O’Hara said.
“I wanted to keep the gallop honest with the favourite [Vandoula Lass], I didn’t serve it up to her but I did make sure she wasn’t going to get away from me. The more I asked of him, the more he found. He is a tough.”
Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald