Murray Baker has welcomed a rain-affected track for today's Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m) at Otaki.
The Cambridge conditioner and his training partner Andrew Forsman will produce The Chosen One in the weight-for-age feature and while the Savabeel four-year-old entire has yet to place on tracks worse than dead, the slow7 track is expected to suit.
"We're very happy with The Chosen One. This race is a bit short of his best but the track will have a bit of juice in it so it will slow them down a bit," Baker said.
Although The Chosen One's best performances have been at 2000m and further, he did win the Listed Zacinto Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton at his second start, pushed group one winner Sword Of Osman when second over 1200m resuming at Ellerslie last summer, and finished fifth in the group two Feehan Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley when resuming last spring.
"This is probably a bit short for him but he's trialled up well and we've got to get him under way. He was just getting warmed up at the finish of that 1200m trial. He's an autumn four-year-old now and I think he's just coming to it."
Baker said safely through today's race, The Chosen One would head to Sydney with the Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m) a possible first-up assignment on March 7.
After that, the group three Manion Cup (2400m) at Rosehill on March 21 and the group two Chairman's Handicap (2600m) at Randwick on April 4 are further possible lead-up races to the group one Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 11.
"If he was going well enough, we could look at the Tancred Stakes [group one, 2400m] as an alternative on the way through."
The Chosen One is no stranger to success in Australia, having won the group three Frank Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick and the group two Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield last year.
Baker won the Sydney Cup with Eagle Eye in 1992 and he and Forsman produced Zacada to run second in 2018, beaten a nose by Who Shot Thebarman.
Baker and Forsman will also chase group two success today, with last-start group three Woburn Farm Classic (1200m) winner Bonita Aurelia tackling the J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders' Stakes (1200m).
"It was a very good performance at New Plymouth and she's done well since," Baker said.
"She's a very strong filly and she's drawn well [barrier four] for Saturday. We expect her to be hitting the line well."
Baker and Forsman have always maintained a high opinion of the Sweynesse filly but have had to manage her troublesome barrier manners.
"She was perfect at New Plymouth though so hopefully she's like that again on Saturday," Baker said, adding that Bonita Aurelia's performance today would dictate whether she would contest next month's group one Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie.
"If she showed she was up to it, we'd look at it."
Others heading to Matamata for the stable are Kabu, Selenelion, Savastep, Crafty Jess, Vee Cece and Midnight Magic, while Riverfalls and Caribbean Rose will accompany The Chosen One to Otaki.
"Vee Cece shouldn't be far away. She was a bit stiff at Tauherenikau last time (when second in the Listed Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes, 1600m). She'll be better over more ground."
- NZ Racing Desk