Riddell to ride Thunderbird One

Jonathan Riddell has been entrusted with the task of attempting to keep the winning streak going for Thunderbird One at Awapuni on Saturday.

There was a slight hiccup at Hastings last Saturday week when Thunderbird One, ridden by Leith Innes, charged the front of his stall just before the field was released and it was decided he had been denied a fair start so he was declared a late scratching.

Co-trainer Murray Baker has put that ordeal aside and is happy with Thunderbird One going into Saturday’s Gr. 3 $70,000 Merial Ancare Metric Mile, in which he will be trying to extend his winning sequence to six. His sole defeat came in his debut at Rotorua when fourth.

“He’s spot on for Saturday,” said Baker. “If he goes well he could back up in the Windsor Park Plate the following week (at Hastings).”

Neo, another of the Baker – Andrew Forsman squad, was successful at yesterday’s Cambridge trials, while the reports from Australia are positive on stablemates Dundeel and Orion.

Neo has won three of his 11 starts, including last year’s Gr. 2 NZ Bloodstock Wellington Guineas, and among his placings was a second to Postmans Daughter at Ellerslie last June.

“I haven’t really decided where to go with him yet,” said Baker. “He’ll either run in an open sprint or a Rating 85 1200 metres. He’s coming up nicely.”

Dundeel is on target for the Gr. 1 $A400,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on Saturday week. “He’s doing well,” said Baker. “He’ll appreciate the jump up to 1800.”

Orion, a winner of his sole New Zealand start last season, was sixth of seven in his Australian debut at Caulfield on August 31, but was making ground over the final stages. He was ridden in that latest event by James McDonald, but Michael Rodd will take over the reins this weekend when he tackles the $A80,000 F. Vitale & Sons 3YO Handicap (1500m).

Rodd has a very successful association with the Baker stable over the years, including the Brisbane Cup – Kelt Capital Stakes on Prized Gem. “The horse will have blinkers on this time and that should sharpen him up a bit.” said Baker.