Group Two double for stable

After landing his first Group Two success with Neo in the Wellington Guineas, Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman didn’t have long to wait for his first double at that level.

Forsman went into a training partnership with Murray Baker at the beginning of the current season and the term has been one of constant highs for the stable, including a Group One win with (Its A) Dundeel in Sydney.

On the home front Baker and Forsman picked up both Group Two events at Pukekohe yesterday with Lady Kipling in the $100,000 NRM/Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes and, two races later, with Jeu de Cartes in the $100,000 DHL Counties Cup.

The victories added to a great strike rate for the duo, who head the NZ Trainers’ Premiership with 29 wins. The stable has saddled up 127 starters so far this season to give it a strike rate of 4.38, by far the best in the top 10 trainers.

In fact only one trainer has a better strike rate in the top 20 and that is another Cambridge horseman, John Bell, whose nine wins have come from 33 starters to give him a 3.33 strike rate.

The Baker stable has also had 18 seconds and 10 thirds from its team of runners this term and have unleashed some very talented gallopers, of which Lady Kipling and Jeu de Cartes are right in the top group.

Lady Kipling went into yesterday’s weight-for-age 1400 metres with a last-start win in the Redcraze Bowl at Awapuni and rider Opie Bosson gave her a beautiful run in the trail and saved ground to take the lead on straightening for the run home.

Lady Kipling was headed by Miss Pelear inside the final 150 metres, but Bosson lifted the mare to grab the honours by a half head.

“She was strong the whole way up the straight and it was only when the other mare went past her that she saw her out the side of her blinkers and she fought back,” said Bosson, who is in dynamic form.

Bosson was also aboard Jeu de Cartes in the Counties Cup and he was again seen at his best when guiding the half-sister to Baker’s Group I AJC Derby winner Nom de Jeu to victory.

Jeu de Cartes overhauled the leader Annie Higgins in the run home then kept up a strong gallop to hold on for a neck win over another Cambridge galloper, Arcenciel, who fought strongly right to the line.

The Baker — Forsman stable has picked up seven Group or Listed wins this term and Jeu de Cartes has been responsible for three of them. She broke through for her first stakes win in the Listed Christchurch Casino Spring Classic at Riccarton and deadheated for first with Savvy Dancer in the Listed Ricoh Feilding Gold Cup at Awapuni in her leadup to yesterday’s event.

Baker was concerned about the 57kg handicap given to Jeu de Cartes yesterday and now the question is where to go next with the mare?

Jeu de Cartes is nominated for both the Wellington and Auckland Cups, but it is not certain whether she will get her opportunity to start in those races because of her high place in the ratings.

Baker believed he is being forced to consider weight-for-age races with Jeu de Cartes, but that poses a problem. “She’s still got to prove that she’s up to weight-for-age against those tough geldings,” he said.

Baker was full of praise for Forsman, Bosson and his staff after yesterday’s double.

“Andrew has really stood up,” he said. “He knows the game and he’s got a great future. As for Opie, he’s a class rider. “

Almost smiling as widely as Baker and Forsman after the Counties Cup was Yves Seguin, trainer of runner-up Arcenciel.

Segun has his sights set on the Auckland Cup with Arcenciel and the mare certainly looks set to handle the 3200 metres in March.