Top of Trainers’ Premiership again

Nordic breaking through for his first win to complete a treble of victories at Avondale today for trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.

Locals Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman regained the lead in the NZ Trainers’ Premiership and kicked a couple of wins clear courtesy of a treble at Avondale today.

The dynamic duo started the meeting on 66 wins, one fewer than arch rival Jamie Richards, and bounced out of the gates quickly to draw level with a deserved win by Spring Delight in the first event.

After a third placing with Western Girl, the stable dominated the end of the eight-race programme when winning the final two events. Oratia, a three-year-old daughter of Redoute’s Choice continued her improvement with victory in her third start, in the West Brook Cellar Door Waimauku 1600, then Nordic, a three-year-old son of Ocean Park, carried his huge army of supporters through with success in the West Brook Wines 1600.

Oratia was ridden by Craig Grylls and hinted a win was near when an unlucky fourth behind Zenvo at Te Aroha last week. On that occasion she was held up in the run home and was doing her best work late.

Nordic also had good lead-up form with a couple of seconds, the most recent behind Poker Queen at Tauranga on Waitangi Day. In that 1400m assignment he finished strongly over 1400m, suggesting the step up to 1600m today would be ideal.

Punters climbed aboard Nordic, backing him into a $1.70 favourite and though the promising galloper got the job done there were some anxious moments.

Rider Jonathan Riddell settled him fourth on the fence as there was an early three-way battle for the lead and was in behind the leaders early in the run home looking for a run as he kept him going.

Riddell then spotted the inside gap as the leader Clearly Now rolled off the fence and he pushed Nordic through and on to a neck win from the Stephen Marsh-trained Spirited, who finished strongly and for a time looked the likely winner.

Now sitting on 69 wins, Baker and Forsman will be watching on as Richards attempts to bridge the gap with runners at Wairoa tomorrow before they fire their next shots over the weekend. The partners have seven runners at the Matamata meeting on Saturday including representatives in two of the three black-type races.

Oratia (Craig Grylls) clearing maiden ranks in good style at Avondale today.

Baker and Forsman head the black-type winners’ list this season with 14 Group or Listed wins, two more than Richards, and they will be represented in the day’s feature, the Gr.2 $100,000 J. Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m,  by the promising Aretha while they have three runners in the Listed $50,000 Marks Ewen & Associates Kaimai Stakes (2000m), namely Zacada, Vin De Dance and Camino Rocoso.

Most eyes will be on Vin De Dance, last year’s Gr.1 Vodafone NZ Derby winner who resumed with an eye-catching run for fourth behind Consensus in the Gr.3 Platinum Homes Taranaki Cup (1800m) earlier this month.

Zacada is fresh-up with the benefit of a couple of trials and he will be expected to benefit from the run, his first since contesting the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington three months ago, while Camino Rocoso has his share of ability but doesn’t always show it. He failed at Te Rapa last start, but in four previous runs within the last few months he won the Taupo Cup (1950m) and picked up a second and two thirds, one of the thirds being the Listed Anniversary Handicap (1600m) at Trentham behind the smart Supera.

Matt Cameron will ride Vin De Dance, Riddell will be on Zacada and Donavan Mansour will handle Camino Rocoso.

Riddell will also ride stablemate Aretha in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes and will be looking to give her a good run from the inside draw.

Though a maiden against some smart fillies, the Charm Spirit filly has shown promise with a couple of trials wins before her debut third to the Karaka Million 2YO runner-up Aotea Lad in the Gr.2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Trentham on December 18.

Aretha was freshened after the trip to Wellington and given a trial at Te Aroha earlier this month, running a nice second a head from the winner.

If Aretha can upset the smart opposition on Saturday she will give Baker his second win in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes. It’s 31 years since he won it with Kate’s Smyth, who was ridden by Greg Childs.

Baker and Forsman have a total of seven acceptors at the Matamata meeting with their first chance being the smart Rhinestone Cowboy, who will be chasing his fourth win in succession, and their last hope, the last-start winner Konstantina. Their other runner is Not Usual June, who won two starts ago.