Racing: Stable racks up impressive tally

Baker and Forsman set sights on Sydney with Jon Snow and Saracino.
Jon Snow tackles the A$200,000 Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday. Photo / Racing Desk
Jon Snow tackles the A$200,000 Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday. Photo / Racing Desk

Murray Baker has had a very merry March and it's not over yet.

Baker and his training partner Andrew Forsman have won five group races this month, including two at group one level.

That has brought the stable's tally of black type wins for the season to 18, with 15 of those at group level. These are figures that are rarely achieved by New Zealand stables.

Baker and Forsman, who also lead the trainers' premiership, will now turn their attention to the Sydney autumn carnival, with New Zealand Derby-placegetter Jon Snow tackling the A$200,000 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.

Baker has fond memories of the group two Tulloch, a race he has already won three times.

The first win came 30 years ago, with Palliser, who was followed by The Bill (1993) and Harris Tweed (2009), while Rios was runner-up in 2008.

Jon Snow has yet to win a race as a three-year-old and has finished second only once but has shown that there can be both profit and honour in defeat.

His brave third, behind Gingernuts and Rising Red, in the Derby took his earnings for the season to $164,000.

He was runner-up in the group two Hawke's Bay Guineas at his first start for the season and has also been third in the group one Levin Classic, group two Great Northern Guineas and listed Karaka Mile.

He was beaten by just a nose and a long head in the Levin Classic and was also less than half a length away in the Northern Guineas and Karaka Mile. He travelled to Sydney last week and has settled in quickly.

"We are very happy with him," Baker said.

"He's got a great temperament and has handled the travel well.

"He has just kept stepping up and it was a good run in the [NZ] Derby."

Jon Snow hit the line well at Ellerslie and recorded the second-fastest final 600m, with fifth placegetter Sacred Elixir recording the fastest time for the last 600m. Jon Snow, like Australian Derby favourite Gingernuts, is a son of the Haunui Farm sire Iffraaj and has had a win and a second from his two starts on slow tracks. "He wouldn't mind a bit of juice in the track [at Rosehill]," Baker said.

Melbourne jockey Damian Lane will partner Jon Snow in the Tulloch.

Lane, 23, is a rider on the rise, with 17 black type wins this season and he recorded a career best win when successful on former Kiwi galloper Humidor in the A$1.5 million Australian Cup at Flemington this month.

Humidor and Caulfield Cup winner Jameka now head the market for the A$1.5m weight-for-age BMW at Rosehill on Saturday.

Jon Snow opened as a $5 third favourite for the Tulloch in the early Australian markets, with Prized Icon and Rising Red sharing favouritism at $4.60.

However, Prized Icon, who was unplaced in last weekend's Rosehill Guineas, has also been nominated for the BMW.

Nineteen horses have been nominated for the Tulloch but few have been proven in group company and Prized Icon, Rising Red and Jon Snow are the three highest rated entries.

Another good run by Jon Snow would confirm a tilt at the A$2m Australian Derby the following weekend.

Saracino, winner of the group three Wellington Guineas at Trentham for Baker and Forsman last weekend, is booked to travel to Sydney next Monday.

Damien Oliver has already been booked to partner Saracino in the A$600,000 Arrowfield Three-Year-Old Sprint (1200m) at Randwick on April 8.

Oliver rode the Per Incanto colt when he was a group two winner over 1200m at the Melbourne spring carnival and Oliver's agent was in touch with Baker shortly after the horse won at Trentham.

Stablemate Mime has been nominated for the group two Windsor Park Japan Trophy (1600m) at Tauranga on Saturday but is not certain to run and might be reserved for the group one Breeders' Stakes at Te Aroha on April 8.

- NZ Herald

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