Late bid for Karaka Million

Murray Baker (pictured) knows he can’t win all round, but he’s making a late bid to have representation in the Listed Karaka Million at Ellerslie on January 29.

Baker will have his fingers crossed when he lines up three Karaka Million hopefuls at Ellerslie on Saturday and he knows only one has a realistic chance of getting a spot in the $1 million juvenile event, which is confined to horses bought at last year’s National Yearling Sales series.

Baker will be represented by Big Rocket, Mac Orla and Testimonial Mak in the $11,000 Countdown to Karaka Million (1200m).  The first prizemoney of $6400 may just be enough to sneak the winner into the Karaka Million, especially if that horse is Big Rocket, who already has $500 in the kitty.

All of Baker’s Karaka Million hopefuls are Australian-bred geldings.  Big Rocket is a son of Shaft, Mac Orla is by Casino Prince and Testamonial Mak is by Testa Rossa.

Big Rocket, a $35,000 purchase from the Ardsley Stud draft at the Select Session, was unplaced in three trials, but turned that form around when he got to the races, showing speed and fighting on for third behind Sir Elmo over 1000 metres at New Plymouth on December 27. He will be ridden on Saturday by Michael Coleman.

Mac Orla picked up $250 for his debut fourth, also at New Plymouth. He was beaten by Green Wings, who will again be an opponent on Saturday, and the runner-up was Hogwarts Express, who won at Te Rapa today.

Mac Orla was bought from the Bluegables Farm draft at the Premier Session for $70,000 through Bruce Perry Bloodstock. He had been placed in two of his three trials before making his raceday debut and will be ridden on Saturday by Matthew Cameron.

Testamonial Mak also showed good trials form, with a win and a second, but disappointed on debut when finished last at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day. He settled back and didn’t improve, but could be a big improver in the hands of Mark Hills this weekend.

Testamonial Mak was the most expensive of Baker’s two-year-olds stepping out on Saturday. He cost $160,000 at the Premier Session and was bought from the Goodwood Stud draft. He is from the family of Golden Slipper winner Catbird.

Baker knows it’s a big call to expect one or more of his runners on Saturday to land a spot in the Karaka Million. “It might be all too much for them at this stage, but they’re well,” said Baker. “We’ve got to have a go.”

Baker’s attention at Ellerslie will also be on Veldt, who will contest the Blandford Lodge 2100, the open handicap.

Veldt was a last-start third behind Roi d’jeu in the Thames Cup and has been going solid races since winning at Matamata on October 28. He will be ridden this time by Sam Spratt.

Veldt holds a nomination for the Group II Wellington Cup, but Baker thinks he might be better suited in another event at the Trentham Carnival.

“The Wellington Cup might be a bit tough to get in,” said Baker. “He could be better suited in the Summer Cup.”