By Glenn Davis
Queensland Oaks winner Winning Ways will be on a “do or die” Melbourne mission when the mare makes a surprise back-up at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Trainer Garry Newham will abandon a spring carnival campaign in Melbourne for the four-year-old if she fails to win the Open Handicap (1835m).
Winning Ways had her first start since claiming the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Doomben in June when she tailed the field behind the Tony Gollan-trained El Campeador over 1350 metres at Doomben last Saturday.
Newham blamed himself for an error in programming Winning Way’s campaign as she heads to her main mission in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) next month.
He had planned to head to Sydney first for the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 5 but has abandoned the Sydney trip.
“It was my mistake. I thought this race was on next week but I’ve spoken to the owners and they said to send her around tomorrow,” Newham said.
“I wasn’t too disappointed with her run last week.
“She could have raced a bit handier but she would have been caught wide and I didn’t want her to have a gut buster with her spring campaign ahead of her.
“She had to go back and be ridden for luck but unfortunately the luck never came.
“Her best work was at the finish.”
Newham is confident Winning Ways will be more competitive over the extra distance but won’t hesitate to abandon her spring campaign if she doesn’t win.
“She’ll have to win this and win it well to warrant going away,” Newham said.
“If she can’t beat these there’s no use going to Melbourne.
“They have to be on their ‘A Game’ when they go away.”
Winning Ways has never backed up in her career but Newham isn’t concerned.
“The main thing after last Saturday was, she pulled up in great order and the race didn’t knock her around,” he said.
“She’s never been beaten in four starts over 1800 metres so that’s in her favour.”
Racing Queensland webnews September 20