By Ray Hickson
It’s almost as if Bjorn Baker is asking Addictive Nature the question – how good are you?
Aggressive placement of the talented three-year-old continues on Saturday when he again takes on weight-for-age company in the Group 2 $250,000 The Star Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick.
The colt was beaten first-up in the Expressway Stakes two weeks earlier but Baker is keeping the faith and is confident punters will see a much fitter Addictive Nature.
“We threw him in the deep end and if he can run in the money again we will be thrilled,’’ Baker said.
“We are yet to see the best of him and hopefully that will be Saturday. I’m very confident he is better on top of the ground.
“As long as he runs a good race we are on target and we have options going forward.’’
TAB opened the colt at $3.90 favourite for the Apollo and he quickly firmed to $3.70 suggesting punters are being forgiving.
Baker had the option of reserving Addictive Nature for the Hobartville Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday week but that race is looking very strong with Kementari, Trapeze Artist and Ace High headed that way.
So the Apollo is seen by Baker as a more suitable lead up to the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) next month where he won’t have to battle the aforementioned trio until then.
Of course, the absence of Winx is an attraction.
“You’ve got to be in to win and we’re up and rolling and it’s not going to be an easy race next week,’’ he said.
“We had a look at it and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t run.
“It was a good run, I don’t think the track helped him and he got blocked a little bit but I thought fitness wise he has come on a lot. We’ll be more positive with him on Saturday up in trip.’’
Baker’s comments about Addictive Nature’s first-up run are interesting and Punters Intel data showed his last 600m of 34.54 was actually faster than the winner but he was left flat between the 400m and the 200m with his 11.44 the second slowest for that section.
The last three-year-old to win the Apollo was Ha Ha back in 2002 and it’s been 28 years since a colt (Key Dancer) last took out the feature race.
Addictive Nature runs third first-up in the Expressway Stakes at Rosehill on February 3
Warhorse (2013) and Mentality (2007) are the only other three-year-olds to be placed in the last 20 years.
Speaking of three-year-olds, Baker revealed Flight Stakes runner-up Champagne Cuddles will return to work on Monday after a fetlock chip delayed her preparation.
The Sydney carnival will come up too soon for the classy filly so Baker is eyeing the Queensland Winter.
“She did a great job in the spring and she will be better for it,’’ he said.
“We’ll look at races like the tatt’s Tiara and Stradbroke but wherever we go she will be very competitive.’’
In-form mare Allez Bien is Baker’s only representative at Friday night’s Canterbury meeting and he’s confident she can make it three on end in the TAB Handicap (1900m).
She led all the way to score at Randwick on February 7 over a mile and will carry 58kg after Jean Van Overmeire’s claim.
“We want to get her up over a trip so we leaned to the longer race,’’ Baker said.
“If she can stay we can look for better races over ground. She’s drawn well, we can be positive and hopefully we can put her in the race.’’