Neo being saved for Awapuni

Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have dropped Neo from their representation at Tauranga this weekend.

Neo was originally among the entries for the $25,000 Morton Estate Sparkling Sprint (1200m), but the decision has been made to save him for the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes day at Awapuni on Saturday week.

“The Flying Handicap down there is a better option for him,” said Forsman. “It gives him another week and it’s over 1400 metres. It’s also better timing for him going on for the Easter Handicap.”

Neo has been off the scene since finishing eighth in the Gr. 3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie last November. A week earlier he had won over the same trip at Pukekohe.

Neo was given a trial at Rotorua last weekend and hit out well to beat Rollout The Carpet over 1000 metres. That performance boosted confidence that he is on target for the Gr. 1 Manco Easter Handicap, the April 12 Ellerslie event in which he finished seventh last year.

“If he goes well in the Easter we may look at taking him to Brisbane. He’s owned over there,” said Forsman.

Neo is owned by Glen and Lisa Morton. The Mortons also race the talented filly Orbity, who will resume in the Bayleys Country 1300 at Tauranga on Saturday and be ridden by Vinnie Colgan.

Orbity won five races in succession last year, including the Listed Courtesy Ford Ryder Stakes and the Listed Fordell O’Learys Fillies Stakes. She was put aside for a spell after finishing sixth of seven behind Bounding and Costa Viva in the Gr. 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings last September.

“We did have her accepted for the Mr Tiz Trophy at Ellerslie but we were banking on the rain and it didn’t come for her,” said Forsman. “She’s better on a wet track. Her options are limited after Saturday so she might end up in Brisbane, too.”

The other starters from the Baker – Forsman team at Tauranga on Saturday will be Decorah, Brah Spring and Orion.

Decorah will be a rival for Orbity in the Bayleys Country 1300 with Craig Grylls in the saddle. She has run a couple of creditable races since winning at Ellerslie last December.

Brah Spring rates a strong chance in the Triton Pacific Owen Plate 3YO with Grylls aboard. She chased the talented Glorious Lad home two starts ago and has been freshened since finishing sixth to Moozoon, Miss Selby and Costa Viva in the Gr. 3 Tiger Prawn Desert Gold Stakes at Trentham.

Orion was an eyecatching third fresh-up and with Leith Innes aboard he should have plenty of support in Saturday’s Bayleys Residential 1600. “He was quite unlucky fresh-up and he’s done well since,” said Forsman.

Forsman also says the reports back from Baker in Sydney over It’s A Dundeel’s prospects second-up in the Gr. 1 $500,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) on Saturday are good.

“I spoke to Murray this morning and he’s happy with him,” said Forsman. “He’s given him a couple of gallops on the course proper and he says he is much-improved from this first-up run.”