The high-flying Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman training partnership had just the one focus at Trentham on Saturday and that single minded determination paid off in spades when Nicoletta triumphed in the Gr. 3 Wellfield Desert Gold Stakes (1600m).
The Cambridge combination trekked just four runners to Trentham who all took their place in the black-type feature. In a roughly run affair that was run at a farcical speed early on, it was Savabeel filly Nicoletta who coped best as she capitalised on a cushy run from an inside barrier to outsprint her rivals in the run home.
Race favourite Devise made a spirited bid to catch the eventual winner in the concluding stages however she came up a head short at the post with another Baker/Forsman runner in Bonneval taking third.
Nicoletta was having her first run since finishing fifth in the Royal Stakes on New Year’s Day with Forsman keen to see the filly gain some valuable Trentham experience.
“It was a terribly run race, a bit of a debacle really, but she just got the soft run,” he explained.
“We’ve always thought that Nicoletta is a real Oaks filly so to do what she has done over a mile is very encouraging.
“I thought it might have been a bit sharp for her today but the way the race was run, it just fell into her hands.”
Rider Michael Coleman was also delighted with the performance as he is another who believes the Savabeel filly will be at her best when seen over the 2400 metres of the New Zealand Oaks distance.
“It was a sit and sprint sort of race and she tracked up really nicely,” he said.
“She was pretty keen compared to how she went at Auckland last time so she freshened up nicely.
“I had said to Andrew I really liked her as an Oaks filly. She has got a bit of quality and I think there is a lot of upside to her.”
Nicoletta races in the familiar JML Bloodstock colours of owner Lib Petagna who outlaid $90,000 for her at the 2015 Select session of the National Yearling Sale.