Long Jack could enhance his stocks as a Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) contender with another bold performance in Saturday’s Listed Piazza D’Oro Auckland Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie.
A fast-finishing second at Matamata on debut when only getting clear running late in the straight, So You Think colt Long Jack spearheads a five-strong attack for Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman in the two-year-old feature.
Baker produced Lion Tamer to win the Victoria Derby at Flemington in 2010 and has been a regular spring visitor to Melbourne with a promising staying three-year-old since. Long Jack split Avadane and Jennifer Eccles as that trio ran the trifecta in the JP Wills Bloodstock 1200 at Matamata earlier this month, with the Baker-Forsman-trained Selenelion further back in sixth.
TAB bookmakers have made Avadane a $3.70 favourite for the Futurity ahead of Jennifer Eccles at $4 and Long Jack at $5.50 but Forsman is optimistic his charge can turn the tables. “You’d think he would have beaten them last time with a clear run. He only got clear late and Jonathan [Riddell, jockey] was pretty adamant he would have won with a fair crack at them,” Forsman said. “It’s the main form race leading into it. The first three favourites come out of it and the form looks good with Tony Pike’s horse (Loire, seventh at Matamata) winning at Hastings yesterday (Wednesday). “Hopefully he can get the job done this weekend. It would be nice to get a bit of prizemoney in the bank for him because he’s the right profile to try and get to a Victoria Derby in the spring. “This would probably do him for this season. We don’t want him running too deep into the winter.”
Long Jack has drawn barrier nine for the 12-horse Futurity and is likely to be given time to find his feet in running. “He doesn’t have a heap of early speed but it will depend how the others jump and where he ends up. With most of these two-year-olds stepping up past 1200m for the first time, there might not be a lot of pressure.”
Forsman said all five of the stable’s runners had win claims, despite being outsiders in the TAB’s final field market – Custom Cruiser and Selenelion at $16 and Rhaegar and Showbeel at $19. “We expected a bit more of Selenelion at Matamata but she lugged a bit left-handed and going right-handed this weekend should suit her. Rhaegar got on a holding track at New Plymouth that didn’t suit but he’s trialled well since and the blinkers go on. “Showbeel is better than what she showed at her first start and Custom Cruiser went a good race first-up and he’s come on too. The key is the track is going to be reasonable and all of them are looking for 1400m.”
It’s another typically busy weekend for the Baker-Forsman team with 11 entered for Ellerslie, six at Hawera on Sunday and last-start winners Bobby Dee and Lord Arthur tackling the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Eagle Farm. “They are certainly not out of it on their form,” Bakers said. “There’s nothing in that field that we should be scared of. We’re hoping they show they can measure up well and go a good solid race before the Derby there in two weeks’ time.”