Top Cambridge-based horseman Murray Baker is gearing up for a supercharged spring carnival down under not only with his Cox Plate bound It’s A Dundeel but also with possible Victoria Derby 2013 hopeful Orion.
Crack High Chaparral colt It’s A Dundeel will obviously spearhead Murray’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival contingent this coming season.
The rising four-year-old already boasts four Group 1 victories in Australia including the autumn 3YO’s triple crown and looks on track for more success as they head towards the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26.
It’s A Dundeel is back in work and already dominating early futures markets for both the Cox Plate as well as the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) a week earlier which Baker hasn’t completely ruled out.
But they’re not the only Group 1’s Baker has set his sights on.
He’s also keen to take out the top three-year-olds’ staying race of the Melbourne Cup Carnival with his relatively unknown O’Reilly colt Orion a chance for the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) in early November.
Passed in at last year’s NZ Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sales, Orion has had just the one official start to date when scoring a win on debut at Te Rapa back in late March.
Baker however believes there’s much more to Orion and that they could develop into a genuine staying three-year-old with the potential to win the Victoria Derby.
“We’ll just take it slowly with him and hope that he can measure up over in Melbourne,” he said.
“You never know with these horses, he’s pretty stoutly bred on the dam side and while I’m not saying that he is anywhere near as good as horses like It’s A Dundeel or Lion Tamer, you have to bring these types over to Australia to see how they’ll go.”
New Zealand-trained horses have a great recent record in the Victoria Derby too with two wins in the past three years.
One of those was the Trent Busuttin-trained Sangster (2011) while the other came from Baker’s stables, the ill-fated Lion Tamer winning the 2010 edition.
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