top of page

Making his mark in Hong Kong: Mark Newnham

Updated: Jul 10

A good friend of mine who knows and follows horse racing refers to trainer Mark Newnham as “The Simon Cowell of horse racing”, someone who has very often been the first person to notice and support the talents of excellent and eventually Group 1 young riders like Tyler Schiller, below, Robbie Dolan, and other bright lights amongst the Sydney riding ranks. 

Having ridden for Australian Hall Of Famers in Bart Cummings and then a number of years with Gai Waterhouse in different roles, Mark Newnham looked like a shoe-in- a lucky horse shoe-in- to slip into the role of Assistant Trainer to the legendary trainer.  

Though even his last race ride and winner was trained by Gai Waterhouse- and which was backed to win by some in Hong Kong with supreme confidence- the Assistant Trainer role to her didn’t go according to script.

With Tulloch Lodge being sold to a Hong Kong family respected in international racing circles, and the inclusion of the Bott family as part of the deal, son Adrian was seen as her partner and eventual successor to the great lady.  

With her apparently having tired of the business side of things, and wanting to focus on her first love- training champion equine gallopers and winning the major races with them- there was an inevitable parting of the ways and with Mark Newnham going out on his own.

It might have been a tough emotional pill to swallow, but what he learned riding and being foreman for Lady Gai Gai for twenty years would be priceless.  

A frequent visitor to Hong Kong over the years on various “reconnaissance missions” for his owners, his name was mentioned to the toppermost of the uppermost at the HKJC over six years ago as a perfect fit for the training ranks.

That was way back then- even if only six years ago- but what’s important is that Hong Kong racing is seeing what Mark Newnham can bring to the game, to the table and his loyal group of owners.

What’s also worth watching is how well he chooses jockeys for his stable’s runners and how often they deliver the goods for owners- and at good odds.

As he did with the young guns in Sydney, particularly rewarding is his support of young riders like Lyle Hewitson, Harry Bentley and, especially, Luke Ferraris.

Over the past few meetings, the Newnham-Ferraris partnership might not be a juggernaut, but it’s a very successful new team- a winning team with no need for transparent bollocks.

Luke Ferraris, 22, is still very much a “work in progress” and is someone with enormous potential.

Support and success lead to confidence, and the young rider is letting his recent spate of wins do the talking and taking everything in his stride.

It’s good to see and father “Darth” who’s back in South Africa after many years of training in Hong Kong must be happy.   

Hard to believe, I know, but behind “Darth’s” bursts of thunder and lightning is a good person who actually has a sense of humour albeit not really very good at a karaoke session.

As for Mark Newnham, he is the consummate professional with a very strong work ethic and his own man.

The word “professional” is used way too loosely, but not when it comes to this particular horse trainer.

He knows his worth, he is grounded, he’s not in Hong Kong for the money, but for the opportunities.

He is patient and works to his own timetable.

It’s been a while getting here, but now that he’s in Hong Kong, local racing fans are going to be the beneficiaries of having Mark Newnham press the Refresh button and giving racing in the city something, well, new and “Newnham”.


40 views0 comments


bottom of page