Better ground brings triple success

Chambon (nearest) starting the winning streak for Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman at Ruakaka yesterday.

Chambon (nearest) starting the winning streak for Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman at Ruakaka yesterday.

Leading Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman showed what they had been waiting for when they unleashed at the Ruakaka meeting yesterday.

The partners made the most of the vast improvement in recent track conditions with the Ruakaka track being rated a Dead5. The stable has five runners on the day and came away with three wins, a third and a fifth.

Learning To Fly, an Iffraaj three-year-old racing in the colours of the stable’s multiple Group One winner Turn Me Loose, was the first cab off the rank and ran a respectable sixth in his debut over 1400 metres, then a race later the stable struck success with the flashy Chambon improving on a debut third at Hastings last May to record a fresh-up win the Adams Trimmer Insurance 1400.

Chambon, a three-year-old daughter of Jimmy Choux, was given a lovely run by rider Craig Grylls, settling fifth on the fence and responding well when being asked to accelerate over the final stages to win by a long neck.

Baker and Forsman’s next runners, Blue Wagon and O’Carol, didn’t race until six races later, but the wait was well worth it.

Blue Wagon, also ridden by Grylls, enjoyed a beautiful passage after settling in the trail and didn’t go around a horse in the A’fare Caterers 1400. Grylls secured the inside run halfway down the home straight and the Keeper five-year-old dived through to win by a length from fellow Cambridge galloper, the Ralph Manning-trained

Sleek Secret, who was doing her best work over the final stages, while the winner’s stablemate, O’Carol, finished her effort off nicely to give Cambridge the trifecta with her third placing, a length from the runner-up.

All the stable attention was then on the team’s last runner of the day, Verdi, and the Zabeel half-brother to multiple Group One winners Sir Slick and Puccini didn’t disappoint. In the hands of Michael Coleman, the four-year-old tracked the leader Charlie Farley, was pulled out to challenge early in the run home and proved too strong, winning by three-quarters of a length.

Verdi’s fresh-up win, his second victory from four starts (to go with two placings), was tinged with sadness as he was bred and is raced by Monovale Holdings, whose principal Paul Smithies passed away earlier this year.

Though all the Baker – Forsman runners looked chances on paper, the wins exceeded the stable’s expectations.

After watching Blue Wagon notch his fifth win from 14 starts and O’Carol finish third, Forsman revealed he was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

“I thought he (Blue Wagon) would need the run over 1400 and up to a mile (1600) he would be better suited. That’s where all his form is,” said Forsman. “O’Carol, with a bit of pace on, would be better suited.

“Blue Wagon had a soft run behind and the stablemate had a bit too much to do.

“They both went good races and they’ve both got a lot of improvement in them.

“O’Carol is in for a good prep. I think the better tracks when she gets over a bit more ground will suit her. She’s bred to do it.”

Forsman was reserved about Verdi’s winning chances in the final event, but warmed to the prospect after Blue Wagon’s win. “I thought it would be too short. He’s a real 2000-metre horse,” he originally said.

The treble of wins has Baker and Forsman sitting in third position on the NZ Trainers’ Premiership with 17 wins, one behind Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs and eight in arrears of the leader, Kevin Myers. With the 17 wins coming from 60 starters, the stable has a fine strike rate of 3.53.