Veteran hoop Jim Byrne will chase a fourth...
Trainer Bjorn Baker is snug about the chances of his three year old filly Champagne Cuddles as she takes on weight for age company for the first time in the Group 1 $700,000 Altus Traffic Kingsford-Smith Cup (1350m) at Doomben on Saturday.
Baker was in two minds whether to keep Champagne Cuddles against her own age in the Group 3 $150,000 Sky Racing Fred Best Classic (1350m) on the same day or let her tackle the older sprinters sooner than he had anticipated as he hopes to gain a start in the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben in a fortnight.
The Warwick Farm trainer has been contemplating the filly’s Queensland Winter Racing Carnival program since she returned to the race track in grand style with a first up win in the Group 3 $125,000 Brandons Gold Coast Guineas (1200m) at the Gold Coast on May 5.
The winner of both the Kingsford-Smith Cup and the Fred Best Classic will be exempt from the ballot for the Stradbroke Handicap.
“The Stradbroke will be a big field and she might draw out, so it’s not easy,” Baker told The Courier-Mail.
“I guess I don’t want to put all the eggs in one basket so we decided to have a crack at this while it’s there. It’s not an easy race but you have to be in it to win it.”
“She is genuine Group 1 class for sure and she’s in great order. She’s done exceptionally well since the first-up win.”
Champagne Cuddles showed her Group 1 credentials during the 2017 Sydney Spring Carnival against the three year olds with a second to Trapeze in the Group 1 $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill followed by a second to Alizee in the Group 1 $500,000 Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.
Baker said that he would leave the riding tactics up to Melbourne Cup winning jockey Corey Brown with Champagne Cuddles to jump from gate nine in the Kingsford-Smith Cup field that has been reduced to ten runners following the early scratching of the Lindsay Park trained Spieth due to a hoof injury.
“The gate’s not ideal, but we will just see how the day plays before deciding on tactics. Corey is a big-time rider and he’s got a good feel of her now, so we will trust him with getting it right,” Baker said.
Champagne Cuddles is sharing the third line of betting for the Kingsford-Smith Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au at $5 with the Doomben 10,000 winner English behind the Kris Lees trained Le Romain at $3.50 and Doomben 10,000 runner up Impending at $4.50.
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