New Zealand horseman Murray Baker has confirmed a Turnbull Stakes Day run Sunday week for his 2016 Victoria Derby-bound three-year-old Highlad.
The High Chaparral gelding is undefeated to date with back-to-back wins at home this campaign.
The latest was in the Listed Wanganui Guineas (1350m) on September 3 when just a nose off the runner-up Manhattan Street.
Baker has the progressive staying track nominated for a big Flemington test this Melbourne Cup Carnival, entering Highlad for the $1.5 million Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) on October 29.
The Cambridge trainer, who now prepares horses in partnership with Andrew Forsman, won the VRC Derby six years ago with the ill-fated Lion Tamer (2010).
He is hoping for a chance at a second win in Victoria’s richest race for three-year-olds during the spring with Highlad this season and has the youngster’s Australian debut pencilled in for Sunday, October 2.
Highlad is on track for a run in the $120,000 Listed UCI Stakes (1800m) and was put through his paces in a Flemington gallop on Friday morning with five-time VRC Derby winning jockey Damien Oliver in the saddle.
Baker was over from NZ to view the work of a number of his spring hopes and was pleased with the effort of Highlad, despite the galloper not being able to keep pace with champion sprinter Chautauqua.
“He hasn’t raced since the start of September, so that will do him good to have a nice hit-out like that,” Baker told Racing Victoria after the hit-out.
“He is a staying horse so I think he should be well suited to the race.”
Current all-in VRC Derby betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au have Highlad as the equal $11 second favourite with the Chris Waller-trained High Mist.
A last start winner over the Warwick Farm mile, High Mist races in Sydney this Saturday taking on James Cummings’ Group 1 winner Prized Icon and the undefeated Team Hawkes-trained Swear in the $200,000 Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill.
Leading the pre-field Victoria Derby odds at $8 is Sacred Elixir, the Tony Pike-trained New Zealander also running on Saturday.
Last seen taking out Brisbane’s Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m) as a juvenile in the winter, Sacred Elixir runs in Melbourne first-up in the $175,000 Group 3 Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).
Baker and Forsman also have a runner in the 2016 Caulfield Guineas Prelude this weekend in last start Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) winner at Flemington Saracino.
He is up over 1400m for the first time since running third in a Group 1 at home behind stablemate La Luna Rossa as a two-year-old, that winning filly another Caulfield runner for the team on Saturday in the $200,000 Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m).
Check out all the spring racing carnival’s best markets and latest betting offers online now at Ladbrokes.com.au!