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 New Zealand Gallops News 
Wednesday, April 18 2018

Leading trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have switched their attention from the riches of Sydney racing to chasing five New Zealand features this weekend.

Saint Emilion winning the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.  - Trish Dunell

That has even meant a trip south for a couple of the stable’s charges, Saint Emilion and Podravina, for the Gr.3 Coca-Cola Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) and the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (2000m) respectively at Riccarton on Saturday.

As well, the stable will have a host of runners at Pukekohe the same day, including five runners in feature races, among them Mime in the Gr.2 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m) and Gundown and Marcellina in the Gr.2 Valachi Downs Championship Stakes (2100m).  

While preparing each of these horses for the weekend assignments, Baker and Forsman have welcomed home their Sydney squad of Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m) runner-up Zacada and their four Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) runners, Vin De Dance (fourth), Mongolian Marshal (eighth), Weather With You (ninth) and Mission Hill (13th).

“They’re all home and going out for a spell,” Baker said. “Zacada went huge in the Sydney Cup and just missed out. He’s now qualified for the Melbourne Cup and so is Vin De Dance. 

“They’ll both have a good spell and we’ll work out plans to get them both back to Melbourne and maybe the Cup. Vin De Dance is owned by OTI and I know they’re keen on the Cup.”

Vin De Dance tried hard to repeat the New Zealand Derby – Australian Derby double of the Baker and Forsman-trained Mongolian Khan and, though he missed out, he put up a brave performance.

“All we needed was a bit of rain for all our Derby runners,” Baker said. “Randwick usually gets some for this meeting, but this year it didn’t come. It would have made a difference to all the Kiwi horses.”

Though major success eluded New Zealand’s leading trainers at the Sydney Championships, they have a strong hand in gathering more black-type wins this weekend with Saint Emilion a leading prospect in the Canterbury Gold Cup.

“You just have to forget his last run,” Baker said. “He’s well and this is the last weight-for-age race beyond a mile for the season so we’ve got to have a go. Lisa Allpress will ride him and she should suit him.”

Allpress will also ride stablemate Podravina in the New Zealand Bloodstock Warstep Stakes and Baker believes the daughter of Bel Esprit has the ability to be hard to beat.

“She’s racing well and it’s a good chance to try and get some black print with her,” he said.

Owned and bred by Sir Peter Vela, Podravina is lightly tried, having had just four starts and she has improved with each outing.

At Pukekohe, Mime will be attempting to register her third Group Two win in the Manco Easter Handicap, having won the Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) in 2016 and the Travis Stakes (2000m) last year.

“She was trapped four-wide when resuming at Awapuni, but she’s come through it well and she’s a good mare when she’s right,” Baker said. 

Gundown goes into the Championship Stakes with a game last start second in the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) behind the smart Sherrif, who will again be a rival on Saturday, while stablemate Marcellina is a maiden who has twice been Group-placed.

“Gundown went well last time and doesn’t mind soft tracks, but it’s a bit of worry with Marcellina,” Baker said.

Posted by: AT 04:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email