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New Zealand horseman Murray Baker is seriously considering a 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes clash with mighty mare Winx in April with his Futurity Stakes winner from the weekend Turn Me Loose.
Winner of the 2014 NZ 2000 Guineas back home, Iffraaj stallion Turn Me Loose has had six runs in Australia for four victories including two at the highest level in Melbourne.
The first was in the Spring’s Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last November and then he enjoyed a second-up win at Caulfield last Saturday in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m).
Usually a horse that goes up front and leads all-the-way, in the Futurity Stakes jockey Opie Bosson had Turn Me Loose off the speed set by Hucklebuck and Trust In A Gust who finished eighth and sixth respectively on the line.
That versatility impressed the Cambridge-based Baker who describes Turn Me Loose as “pretty relaxed”.
“It was good to see. He doesn’t have to lead,” Baker told Correct Weight on RSN.
“When Hucklebuck went around and took the pace, it was probably a good thing for him.
“He’s pretty relaxed, we’ve done a lot of work with him in New Zealand with other horses. He does relax and doesn’t have to go to the front.”
Over his 13 starts Turn Me Loose has now racked up seven wins, three seconds and a third for $1.46 million in prize money.
He is yet to be tested over 1600m however, which is something that could change this season in Sydney.
Baker is eyeing the autumn’s richest race, the $4 million Group 1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of The Championships, Saturday April 9.
“We do think the horse will get 2000m, even though he’s never been tried at that,” Baker said.
“He runs a good mile, so no reason why he shouldn’t.”
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes is also the most likely grand final target for Chris Waller’s four-time Group 1 winner Winx who stamped her class once more last Saturday with an easy win in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
She is unsurprisingly the short-priced favourite in all-in Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $2.10 for the win ahead of Criterion ($8) who returns to racing this Saturday in Sydney’s Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m).
Turn Me Loose meanwhile can be found a little further down futures Queen Elizabeth Stakes betting at $21 to hand Baker his second win in the classic following his success with It’s A Dundeel (2014) two years ago.
Leading up to the Queen Elizabeth Turn Me Loose will shoot for another elite level win in the $1 million Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Golden Slipper Stakes Day, March 19.
“He’s a promising colt. He’s done all we’ve asked of him – I think he’s got a good future,” Baker added.
“He’s up to Sydney on Wednesday, and will run in the George Ryder in three weeks’ time.”
The last horse to complete the Futurity Stakes – George Ryder Stakes double without another run in between however was back in 1997 with Mouawad.
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