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Baccarat Must Play Her Cards Right To Spring Flight Upset

By Ray Hickson

There might be a picket fence alongside Baccarat Baby’s name in the form guide but trainer David Vandyke and jockey Michael Hellyer know there’s no margin for error if they are to spring a Group 1 upset at Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer David Vandyke and jockey Michael Hellyer. (Pic: Darren Winningham).

It’s not only because the Group 1 $500,000 Darley Flight Stakes (1600m) is the filly’s biggest test but because she’s her own worst enemy.

Baccarat Baby has won her last five starts – more than any of her rivals – and Hellyer, having his first Group 1 ride, said she’s earned her shot at the top level.

“She's pretty promising, obviously it is a massive step up but there's not much more she can do,’’ he said.

“She not just winning comfortably but having a lot go wrong and still winning. I think it is warranted to have a crack at them.’’

Hellyer, 30, has ridde Baccarat Baby in four of her five wins and is acutely aware of the need to make no mistakes or the filly will punish him.

He’s hoping for a genuine tempo as a stop-start race will encourage her tendency to overdo it.

“If you hunt her up too much she gets her head up in the air and wants to pull and reef and throw her head everywhere so that's why I've been riding her quiet,’’ he said.

“Once you get her head down she will relax and travel. In an ideal world if there's a lot of speed on it will suit us.

“I'm not sure how she will shape up but she knows how to win and she is certainly not out of it.’’

Upsets in the Flight Stakes are rare.

Seven of the last 10 winners have started favourite and of those 10 only Secret Admirer ($17 in 2010) started in double figures. Royal Purler in 2002 was the last major blowout winning at $31.

Vandyke, who relocated from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast a couple of years ago, trained Yankee Rose to run second in the 2016 Flight Stakes but she was later disqualified.

Yankee Rose then became the first filly to win the Spring Champion Stakes and ran third to Winx in the Cox Plate.

Baccarat Baby isn't in Yankee Rose's class but her winning streak, including twice over a mile, has earned her some respect as a $19 chance with TAB and Vandyke said running a strong mile is one thing in her favour.


Baccarat Baby makes it five straight winning at Doomben on September 15

She’d had a month between runs prior to her latest win over the 1600m, under 59kg, at Doomben on September 15.

“We are under no illusions she is going to have to improve on what we've seen to be competitive at Group 1 level,’’ Vandyke said.

“I think she has to run better than what we've seen. Stranger things have happened, if all goes well for us she can run a very good race.’’

Impressive Tea Rose Stakes winner Miss Fabulass is the $2 TAB favourite to emulate her mother Samantha Miss who won the 2008 Flight Stakes as a short-priced favourite.

All the fields, form and replays for Saturday's meeting at Royal Randwick

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