Baker marshals Cup troops

Group 3 SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m) contender Mongolian Marshal. Photo credit: Trish Dunell

Leading trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman will tackle Saturday’s Group 3 SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m) at Te Rapa with an experienced cups campaigner and an emerging youngster.

A decision to bypass the Cup with Saint Emilion in favour of the Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day has left Baker and Forsman with Maygrove and Mongolian Marshal in the reckoning for the Te Rapa feature.

Mongolian Marshal finished second to Igraine in the Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m) last start and while the High Chaparral four-year-old has trained on to Baker’s satisfaction since, the trainer has doubts about the step up to 2400m.

“There could be a doubt whether he’s a 2400m horse but we’ll see. He’s gone on with it well and we’re happy with him,” Baker said.

“He ran a good race [for eighth] in the ATC Derby last season. He got back and ran on well but it’s different to doing it against other three-year-olds and taking on the older horses at a mile and a half.

“Igraine looks a talented horse and she looks hard to beat at the distance.”

Online bookmakers have opened Igraine as a $2.20 favourite for the Cup ahead of Mongolian Marshal at $3.20 and last year’s winner Five To Midnight at $7. Maygrove is a $22 outsider.

While Maygrove was unplaced in his Counties Cup defence at Pukekohe last month, Baker was pleased with his effort.

“It was a very good run. He got back and they weren’t making a lot of ground,” Baker said.

“The old fella has really been showing some zip in his work. They are both ready to run honest races.”

A winner of nine of his 53 starts, Maygrove would take his career earnings beyond $500,000 with success on Saturday. Meanwhile, Baker will shoot for further stakes success at Awapuni, with brilliant last-start Te Rapa winner Queen Of Diamonds tackling the Group 3 Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes (1550m).

“We’re very happy with her. We think she’s a good filly in the making and I don’t think she’ll mind it if there’s a bit of cut in the track,” Baker said.

“Hopefully she’ll race well and then race at Ellerslie over Christmas. We might look at the Eight Carat Classic (Group 2, 1600m) and the Royal Stakes (Group 2, 2000m).”

Travelling companion Hinerangi contests the Rich Hill Stud Manawatu Cup Prelude (2000m).

“She went a good race at Wanganui, just got nailed late by a closer. We’re interested to see how she goes over more ground.”