Stable chasing Ryder Stakes win

Murray Baker has won most of the country’s feature races, but one which has eluded him is the Listed Ryder Stakes. But the Cambridge trainer hopes to rectify the situation at Awapuni this weekend.

Baker, who trains at Cambridge in partnership with Andrew Forsman, will be represented in the $50,000 Courtesy Ford Ryder Stakes on Saturday by Orbity and Dancer’s Tale, both leading prospects.

Baker’s best recent result in the Ryder Stakes is a third in 2010 with Lol, who chased home Dating and Zennista, but it must be pointed out the stable hasn’t had many runners in the contest.

Orbity is likely to start favourite on the strength of a recent hat trick of wins and will be ridden by Matt Cameron, who is locked in an intense battle with Opie Bosson for the NZ Jockeys’ Premiership.

Ironically, Bosson has been aboard Orbity in two of her wins, while Cameron guided her to the middle leg of her hat trick.

Orbity broke through for her first win at Rotorua on May 28 on a heavy track, then scored on a dead surface at Ruakaka before making it three on end when winning on heavy footing at Te Awamutu.

Orbity has not finished further back than third in her seven starts and Dancer’s Tale has also shown plenty of promise.

Dancer’s Tale picked up two wins early in the season, on a heavy track on debut at Wanganui and on a good surface in the Listed Barneswood Farm Welcome Stakes at Riccarton.

She was freshened after failing in the Karaka Million and has bounced back with two sound runs, a second at Te Rapa and a fourth in the Listed John Turkington Castletown Stakes at Wanganui.

Dancer’s Tale will be ridden by Paul Taylor, who hasn’t ridden for the stable for years.

“Both fillies are very well,” said Baker. “They’ve been working together and are both on the small side, but light on their feet. There’s not much between them, but it’s a good field.”

Cambridge stables have two other runners in the Ryder Stakes and both are promising types. Frank Ritchie will be represented by Aaja Nachle and Stephen Marsh will saddle up Zanotti, a filly he part-owns.

Aaja Nachle, a daughter of the capable sprinter Madhuri Dixit, won on debut at Avondale then finished second in the Listed Castletown Stakes behind Dugan (a rival again this weekend) before a last-start fifth to Orbity at Te Awamutu. She will be ridden by Marsh’s apprentice, Alex Forbes.

Zanotti, the mount of Jonathan Parkes, was placed in her two trials before finishing second to exciting debutante Cauthen at Te Rapa. Although Zanotti was beaten eight and a half lengths, Marsh says she has improved a lot from the experience.

Northern stables have an excellent record in the Ryder Stakes, winning 15 of the last 18 contests. The last Cambridge winner of the race was the Ralph Manning-trained Snow Excuse a couple of years ago.