Features aplenty this weekend for star training pair

NZ star Jon Snow
A BUSY weekend of racing awaits Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, who will be keeping watch on feature race contenders on both sides of the Tasman on Saturday.

Saturday sees Jon Snow continuing its buildup to the cups in Melbourne when he contests the Group One Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington, while emerging star Francaletta tackles the Group Three Boehringer Ingelheim Metric Mile at Awapuni.

The freshly re-crowned New Zealand champion training duo of Baker and Forsman have campaigned more horses in Australia in recent years than any other domestic stable so are well versed in ensuring the planning and logistics of the exercise are fine-turned to bring about success.

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Baker is warning success might not come Jon Snow’s way this weekend, rather the Flemington weight-for-age feature providing the Group One Australian Derby winner with another important stepping stone towards more suitable targets deeper into the spring.

“We’re happy with him but it’s a very strong field and for him it’s another step on his pathway to the cups,” Baker said.

The trainer said the horse will take a lot from its run in the Group One Memsie Stakes, where Jon Snow ran sixth.

“He’s drawn well and he would have taken improvement from his run the other day. He went very well and if he hadn’t been tightened, he might have run fourth.”

Despite the confidence coming in Baker was reluctant to claim Jon Snow has a winning chance.

“Stephen Baster rode him on Tuesday and said he felt good,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say he would be winning this, but it is a race that fits in with his programme. You’ve got to be running them every two weeks to get them fit. We’ll decide after this race what he does next, but possibly it’s the Underwood Stakes over 1800m.”

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Back in New Zealand, talented High Chaparral five-year-old mare Francaletta will start favourite in the Boehringer Ingelheim Metric Mile, shooting for its sixth win from seven starts after an emphatic first-up sprint win at Hastings earlier this month.

“It’s a tough ask second-up jumping from 1200m to a mile but it’s a stakes race and she deserves her shot,” Baker said.

“We are hoping the track doesn’t get too heavy because then it becomes an even harder task. But we’re happy with her. She’s a good galloper and we think she’s fit enough.”

Baker has yet to make plans past Saturday’s race for Francaletta, which is raced by Lib Petagna, crowned New Zealand’s owner of the year at last Sunday’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Awards, but he is shying away from a tilt at the Group One Livamol Classic at Hastings on October 7.

“A lot of High Chaparral mares are best over sharper trips. Personally, I think 1600m, maybe 1400m, is her best distance, but we’ll just see how she races on Saturday,” Baker said.

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