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Image: R&S
Mark Newnham has another promising apprentice on his books in Tyler Schiller

A desire to give others an opportunity to forge careers in racing is the driving force behind Mark Newnham’s commitment to mentoring the sport’s brightest young riders.

A former jockey before he turned his hand to training, Newnham has produced the past three winners of the Sydney apprentices’ premiership – Robbie Dolan, who claimed back-to-back titles in 2018-19 and 2019-20, and reigning titleholder Tom Sherry.

He now has emerging talent Tyler Schiller under his wing, the pair combining for a Saturday metropolitan victory at Kembla Grange on Saturday courtesy of Dragonstone before Schiller added another on Eleven Eleven for Warwick Farm trainer Greg Hickman.

Newnham encourages his apprentices to hone their trade on the country and provincial circuits, only making the progression to the city when they have earned it.

“Sydney racing, it doesn’t matter whether you’re the trainer or the jockey, you get judged quickly and if they start riding in town too soon and get beaten on a couple (people say), óh, he can’t ride’,” Newnham said.

“I know when Robbie (Dolan) was going well early, and then Tom (Sherry), the pressure to let them ride in town was unbelievable and I kept saying no.

“Even the kids started to have a couple of doubts and I said, ‘if you come to town too soon it will actually put you back six or 12 months’.”

Newnham possesses an obvious skill set to mentor young riders but his passion to help goes deeper.

Racing has been his life since he was a teenager and he wants to give something back.

“It’s not always easy. You’ve got to have the ups and downs with them and some of those ups and down are off the track and on the track because they are only young men,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in Sydney racing since I was 15 and it’s a way of putting something back in as well.

“I’ve had a wonderful career to date and to me, it’s something I want to continue because it is hard to get young people interested in racing now and if they are, and they’re keen like these boys, you’ve got to fuel that.”

The rewards come on days like Saturday when Newnham was able to give Schiller an opportunity on a promising horse and the apprentice delivered with a pitch-perfect ride.

“It is rewarding when you have your horse ridden like that and they’ve only got 51 (kilos),” Newnham said.

“He is advantaged by getting the claim and I always enjoy when the boys win on the horses.”

 
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