By Ray Hickson
It’s been a long term plan by trainer Bjorn Baker to win the Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) with She’s Ideel and nothing that has happened since he formulated the program to make him think she can’t pull it off.
What he didn’t anticipate in the initial blueprint was that the mare’s final lead up would earn her a Group 1 weight-for-age placing but that was a bonus.
That came from being the best of the chasers behind Sir Dragonet in the Tancred Stakes (2400m), a race that Baker decided to have a throw at the stumps at after She’s Ideel was a good thing beaten in the Epona Stakes against the mares.
“I’ve had it in my mind since the start of last spring so it’s nice to get her there and the plan has come together pretty well at this stage,’’ he said.
“She gets in with a light weight, she’s won at Randwick before and she relaxes well in her races.
“She’s done everything well, of course the run in the Tancred was very good. She may need a little bit of luck from there but we’re happy with her going into the race.”
Somewhat surprisingly the Tancred form has only produced five Sydney Cup winners since the turn of the century and the last runner-up from the WFA race to win the Cup was Count Chivas back in 1996.
Baker’s father Murray won the Sydney Cup in 1992 with My Eagle Eye, who ran fourth in the Tancred that year but whose lead up run was a second in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in what was a different format to the carnival.
She’s Ideel carried 57kg in the Tancred and drops to 50kg for the Cup where she was $7.50 with TAB on Thursday. She hasn't won since early October in a 2000m Benchmark 78 but has recorded six placings from seven starts since then including four at stakes level.
“There are some old campaigners there that are fit and well, I’m leaning towards the Tancred form over the Manion Cup but I guess I’m biased as well,’’ Baker said.
“The unknown question is the two miles and whether she really does stay, she was good in the St Leger over 2600m in the spring, we won’t know until Saturday.”
Baker realises it’s difficult to win many races, let alone a gruelling 3200m contest, from near last so is hoping with the step up in trip and a favourable barrier jockey Rachel King can at least find a midfield spot in the run.
King was involved in a tumble at Newcastle on Thursday but was cleared of injury.
“We could definitely from that gate look to be midfield but we’ll leave it up to Rachel because she’s ridden her before and successfully so she knows what it takes,’’ he said.
“If they roll along up front and they spread out a bit she will get her chance.”
Import Spirit Ridge ($11) has found himself in front in both runs since the summer and trainer Mark Newnham is hoping he can find a leader for his grand final.
The six-year-old also has a significant weight drop of 7.5kg out of his fifth placing in the Tancred and Newnham believes he fits the profile of recent Cup winners.
“He’s a quick beginner and he’s been in races where there’s been no leader, there looks to be plenty of options to lead and I’d say he will just get cover straight away,’’ Newnham said.
“When Angel of Truth didn’t boot through and hold the front (in the Tancred) he was forced to lead and first-up there was no leader and he was a bit fresh.
“He’s needed both those runs but this has been his main goal all the way through.”
She's Ideel runs second in the Tancred Stakes at Rosehill
Chairman’s Handicap runner-up Rondinella ($13) has pleased trainer John O’Shea all campaign and he said he’s discussed with jockey Andrew Adkins about the right strategy to see the mare go one better on Saturday.
“I can’t have her any better. I think she has improved again in the stable, we were ecstatic with her run on Saturday,’’ he said.
“We were bullish she would run well on the strength of her work and she ran right up to it. I think she is well placed.”
Some seven lengths behind Rondinella in fourth place in the Chairman’s was Selino ($17) and his trainer Chris Waller said his gelding will relish the extended journey.
The five-year-old has been unplaced in all five starts for Waller but back in the UK was a winner over 3328m and finished second in the Group 2 Doncaster Cup over 3600m.
“At the 3200m he’ll just be starting to get warm,’’ Waller said.
“We’ve removed the blinkers, he was just a little bit keen in his races, and the wide draw isn’t a disadvantage either because he can roll forward and be comfortable.”