Baker unperturbed by wide draws

Lizzie L'Amour (Matt Cameron) winning the Gr.3 Skycity Hamilton Waikato Cup.

Lizzie L’Amour (Matt Cameron), a leading chance at Ellerslie tomorrow following this win in the Gr.3 Skycity Hamilton Waikato Cup.

Wide draws hold few concerns for Cambridge trainer Murray Baker ahead of Saint Emilion and Lizzie L’Amour’s double assault on tomorrow’s Gr.3 City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie.

Last-start Gr.3 Waikato Cup (2400m) winner Lizzie L’Amour drew barrier 20, while Saint Emilion – backing up from his fourth placing in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day – was allocated barrier 22.

“We’re not worried,” said Baker, who trains in partnership with Andrew Forsman. “It’s a good run into the first bend and I’m happy with them both. They are both happy horses.”

Saint Emilion has had six starts past 2100 metres and won three of them, though tomorrow’s Laser Plumbing Te Puke-sponsored staying feature isn’t an easy assignment with topweight of 60.5kg to carry.

“The weight is always a worry, but there’s no other races around for him,” said Baker.

“We’d be waiting for the Herbie Dyke at Te Rapa for him otherwise so he might as well take his chances in this. The horse is very well and we’ve decided to press ahead.

“He’s out of a Pentire mare and there’s no reason why he won’t stay. They just went too fast in front the other day and he’ll be better suited this time.”

Zabeel four-year-old Lizzie L’Amour made no fuss of her open-class debut in the Waikato Cup and Baker said the mare had progressed well ahead of the Ellerslie feature.

“She’s got a good record and no weight,” Baker said in reference to Lizzie L’Amour getting in on the 53kg minimum as a winner of four of her eight starts, including that Group win at Te Rapa.

TAB bookmakers have Lizzie L’Amour as a $5.50 joint favourite with this year’s Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks winner Fanatic, while Saint Emilion is the $12 fifth favourite.

The Baker-Forsman stable will take a formidable team to Ellerslie for one of best days on the New Zealand racing calendar.

Progressive filly Nicoletta is a leading chance in the Gr.2 Stella Artois Royal Stakes (1600m), while Hawke’s Bay Guineas winner Jon Snow tackles the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Great Northern Guineas (1600m). Special conditions maiden entries Huayra and Craftyeva round out the team.

“Nicoletta looks like she’ll stay a bit and she’s got a good rider in Mickey Coleman,” said Baker.

“Jon Snow needs a bit of easing of the track and we’re hoping a bit of water goes on. He’s improved a lot with the run the other day, which we expected him to.”

– NZ Racing Desk