Trans-Tasman focus for top trainers

Mongolian Khan (Opie Bosson)  who resumes in the Makybe Diva Stakes on Saturday. (Photo: Race Images, PN)

Mongolian Khan (Opie Bosson) who resumes in the Makybe Diva Stakes on Saturday. (Photo: Race Images, PN)

It’s a rather elite team that Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman are taking to the races on Saturday.

The training duo have just two runners – New Zealand horse of the year Mongolian Khan in the Gr. 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington and fellow Group One winner Dal Cielo in the Listed Tavistock Northland Breeders Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka.

Both gallopers are resuming and will benefit from the outings, according to Baker, but both have the class to make their presence felt.

“I’m very happy with Mongolian Khan,” Baker said from Melbourne. “It’s a tough race for him first-up. It will be a firm track, probably a good three, and they will run along a bit but he’ll be hitting the line.

“I hadn’t seen him for a week before I arrived back over here and he looks great. He’s lost a bit more of his winter coat and I’m pretty happy with where he’s at. He’s ready to run a nice mile but it’s still probably going to be a bit short for him.”

A winner of seven of his nine starts, Mongolian Khan hasn’t raced since his win in the Gr. 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick in April when he became the first horse since Hall of Fame galloper Bonecrusher to win the New Zealand and Australian Derbies in the same year in 1986.

Mongolian Khan has trialled twice ahead of his resuming run and will be ridden as usual by Opie Bosson on Saturday.

Baker has complemented Mongolian Khan’s trackwork gallops with swimming and was pleased with his main hit-out alongside the Nigel Blackiston-trained Let’s Make Adeal last Tuesday.

Safely through the Makybe Diva, Mongolian Khan will continue his Cups buildup in the Gr. 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 26.

Baker was satisfied with the 55kg allocated to the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry-owned four-year-old stallion for the A$3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17, for which he has been made favourite.

“I thought that would be his weight – 54.5 to 55 kilos,” said Baker. “He’s a dual Derby winner and I’m happy with that. There wasn’t a real star international entry to push his weight down.”

Closer to home, Gr. 1 Diamond Stakes winner Dal Cielo resumes in the Northland Breeders Stakes for jockey Sam Spratt.

“We’ve got to make a start with him. He’s drawn eight of nine but I’m hoping some of those horses drawn inside him won’t muster as much speed as him early,” said Baker.

Dal Cielo has also twice trialled in preparation for his spring campaign that could yet see him race in Australia.

“We were initially a bit disappointed with his trial at Taupo, but there were a few factors against him and he’s improved in his work at home,” said Baker. “We expect a good run this weekend. If he gets the right run, he’s right up to the class.

“We’ll get this run out of the way before we make any plans with him.”

 — NZ Racing Desk