Shantou pick of runners at Orange, says trainer
BJORN Baker doesn't expect the outside barrier to stop Shantou making a winning return today as the Sydney trainer labelled the filly his best hope at Orange.
Baker will take a team of five horses to Orange and all five have genuine winning chances.
But it's resuming filly Shantou Baker is keenest on despite the filly drawing the outside barrier in the 1000m Maiden Plate.
"She has trialled well and she is going really well," Baker said.
"She has drawn awkwardly but she is not a bad horse.
"She ran in a stakes race at Scone (at her most recent start back in May), so it's a big drop back and I would expect her to go really well."
Baker also made a strong case for Free Way in the Heat Of The Rising Star Series (1280m).
The four-year-old finished a luckless sixth first-up at Bathurst before winning a Benchmark 60 Handicap (1200m) at Nowra by 1 ½ lengths.
"It's an apprentice race and I have my apprentice on, Jean Van Overmeire," Baker said.
"He has sat on him a few times and (the horse) looks really well.
"I am confident he has improved since last time and he is in good order."
Cappella Magna will bid to bring up a hat-trick of wins in the Benchmark 55 Handicap (1400m) and Baker sees no reason why she can't continue on her winning ways.
"She is going really well," he said.
"Her win last time was good and third-up at 1400m she should be really hard to beat.
"She has my apprentice on too and she has drawn ideally and should get a good run, so I think she will be really competitive.
"It's not easy to go from a maiden to Class 1 and she was dominant (last start) as well."
Riva Romance (Race 2) and the resuming Pray To The Sky (Race 7) round out Baker's Orange team today.
"It is not an easy race and Pray To The Sky is up against some well performed horses but he has trialled OK," Baker said.
"He has had a long, long time off and he may need the run but he has shown us a bit at the same time.
"Riva Romance has good provincial form coming back to this race and she has a bit of weight but I would hope she is just too good."
Baker said Shantou was the pick of his runners.
"Shantou should be going close," he said.
"She is a big strong filly and I like her.
"Hopefully we can get a winner or two and I always like taking them out to Orange, so fingers crossed."