The Chosen One (right) finished a close third behind Verry Elleegant (centre) and Anthony Van Dyck in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup. Photo / Racing Photos
Proud trainer Murray Baker is adamant The Chosen One is a better Melbourne Cup chance this year after his brave third in the Caulfield Cup.
The Cambridge galloper looked a winning hope at the 300m mark in Saturday’s A$5 million thriller at Caulfield before going down to the two favourites Verry Elleegant and Anthony Van Dyck but Baker was left beaming by the effort.
“I have had a bit of success in the Caulfield Cup but that was as good a field as I have had a Caulfield Cup runner in,” said Baker, who trains with Andrew Forsman. “So to run third, behind a mare who has won A$6 million and the horse who won the English Derby is a massive effort.”
It also comes with a bonus for The Chosen One’s trainers as he sits 24th on the list of entries for the A$7.75m Melbourne Cup on November 3, meaning with the usual attrition he is as good as in the field even if a few more horses leapfrog him.
“Being in the field is a big help because it means he can go straight to the Cup now and we don’t have to race him again.
“I think he is a better chance this year than he was last season (19th) because he is stronger but as we saw on Saturday a lot comes down to the draw. Last season he drew bad in both Cups and was running on but if you can draw well and stay handy that is a lot less horses to run past.”
Daniel Stackhouse, who rode The Chosen One on Saturday, retains the ride for the iconic Flemington race.
The Chosen One has 53.5kgs for the Cup while the Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter will announce on Monday whether Verry Elleegant is given a re-handicap on the 55kgs she has for the Melbourne Cup after Saturday’s win.
While The Chosen One is now safely in the Melbourne Cup field his stablemate and ATC Derby winner Quick Thinker has returned home after a luckless campaign.
“He has got a back issue which is why he was hanging in his races and you didn’t see the best of him,” says Baker. “He is home here now, we will work on that and set him for the autumn back in Sydney.”
Meanwhile, the stable’s 2000 Guineas joint favourite Aegon will not race again before the classic at Riccarton on November 7. Many of the Guineas contenders will head to Te Rapa this Saturday for the $100,000 Sarten Memorial but Baker says the light-framed Aegon, a stunning winner of the Hawke’s Bay Guineas last start, won’t need a another run.
“He is not the most robust horse yet but we are sure he will get the 1600m so it is straight to Riccarton for him.”
Aegon is joint Guineas favourite with another brilliant last-start winner in Not An Option, who will actually steal his rider.
Leith Innes rode Aegon at Hastings but is committed to Not An Option should both horses make it to the Guineas at Riccarton.
Baker was just as mystified as punters by True Enough’s off-colour effort in Saturday’s Red Badge Sprint at Hastings. Last season’s most consistent weight-for-age galloper finished last, his first unplaced performance in 15 starts. “We don’t know what happened there but clearly that is not him,” says Baker of last season’s Zabeel Classic winner.
The Red Badge was won by Hypnos who has rocketed to the head of the market for the Couplands Mile at Riccarton next month.