The fact comeback galloper Mission Phoenix is even racing for the chance to secure consecutive stakes wins in Thursday’s Listed Australia Day Cup (2400m) at Warwick Farm is pretty remarkable.
Few horses come back from serious injury like the six-year-old has but the Mark Newnham-trained gelding continues to defy the odds.
Mission Phoenix lost more than two years of his career due to a bowed tendon suffered in his second in the 2019 Grand Prix at Eagle Farm.
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But in his second preparation back from his long break, he’s now racing in career best form.
Mission Phoenix comes in the feature Cup having won three of his past five including a career highlight win in the Listed January Cup at Rosehill last start.
“He has come back this preparation in really good shape,” Newnham said.
“Generally their form (after those sort of injuries) tends to taper off a bit but he is in the form of his life at the moment.
“But he did run second in the Grand Prix at his third or fourth start in a race so he has always had enough talent but just had those two years away from racing, probably robbing him of his best two years.”
Mission Phoenix is a $6.50 TAB contender to continue his excellent run in the Australia Day Cup with Newnham’s apprentice Tyler Schiller in the saddle.
The son of Reset was dealt a tough draw in barrier 15 but Newnham hopes Mission Phoenix early speed will help him overcome the gate.
“For a horse that gets over ground, he is a quick beginner which hopefully offsets the gate pretty quickly,” he said.
“He is in super form. He has to stretch it out to the mile and a half but around a smaller track like Warwick Farm, it will give him a good opportunity to do so.
“He went to a mile at the end of last preparation and had a few runs on very heavy tracks and wasn’t at his best but he has come back in good shape.”
Newnham has a strong hand across the Australia Day card with Mission Value among his chances in the Castelvecchio First Yearlings Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m).
After winning first up, Mission Value was beaten by the classy Think About It at his most recent start.
“He got beaten by a smart horse the other day,” Newnham said.
“He will enjoy the step up to 1400m, he gets on pace and his two runs back as a gelding have been genuine and he has run to his best.
“We would expect him to be in the finish.”
Zain’s Girl will look to return to the winner’s list in the Hyland Race Colour Benchmark 72 Handicap (1000m) while Shadow Devil ($8) contests the Too Darn Hot First Yearlings Benchmark 72 Handicap (1200m).
“Zain’s Girl loves soft ground so she will be advantaged by that,” Newnham said.
“She won first up and raced a touch flat second up but goes into that in good order.
“Shadow Devil is having his first run as a gelding which could only help him.
“He looked like being a very good horse on his first two wins but has failed to convert since then so we decided to geld him and keep him in work.”
Josh Parr pilots Shadow Devil and Tom Sherry is on Zain’s Girl.
PFIEFFER’S ROUGHIE COULD PROVE THE RIGHT CHOICE
Trainer David Pfieffer reckons the bookies have got it wrong and the betting gap between his unraced fillies Bindi’s Choice and So Audacious in the opener at Warwick Farm isn’t an indication of their talent.
TAB have installed So Audacious as a $5 chance for her debut while Bindi’s Choice is the $41 outsider of the field for the Fujitsu General Maiden (1100m).
“I think they need to give a bit more respect to Bindi’s Choice, she is a very nice filly,” Pfieffer said.
“She has trialled well and has got a bit going for her. I had her in last prep and she has always shown plenty of ability, hence why Jay Ford has been eager to stick with her.
“They are two very nice fillies that are so far apart in the market.
“So Audacious is a So You Think who will be a better with more experience and more time where Bindi’s Choice is probably that little bit more forward.”
Both fillies have been provided with ideal draws for their first up assignment with Bindi’s Choice in gate one and So Audacious, to be ridden by Tommy Berry, one outside her.
Pfieffer has given both horses several trials to get them ready for their debut runs with So Audacious winning her most recent effort at Warwick Farm
“All the trials of So Audacious have been good and she is doing it all on raw ability,” Pfieffer said.
“She is only going to get better as she matures more.
“She will be a better horse next preparation but I am very excited about what she can do first start in a race.”
Pfieffer has Sebring’s Rose in the TAB Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m) and the Warwick Farm conditioner is expecting a marked improvement from the mare second up.
Sebring’s Rose failed to beat a runner home first up from a break.
“She will appreciate the storm (on Tuesday night), she likes the cut out of the ground,” he said.
“The track was way too firm for her last start and I thought she looked good until it was time to get into the battle then she looked after herself because she doesn’t like firm tracks.”
Originally published as Warwick Farm preview: Mission Phoenix is rising from the ashes as he chases a second Cup win