By Ray Hickson
Trainer Bjorn Baker has every right to stride onto Rosehill on Saturday with a sense of confidence that it could be a good day at the office.
He has a bullish confidence about improving gelding Soldier Of Love continuing his rise, he’s upbeat that Starspangled Rodeo is a horse that will win more races this winter and sees no reason why Miss Einstein can’t finally notch that win she’s been promising all preparation.
And that’s just the major players from his stable according to the market.
Baker labelled Soldier Of Love, who chases back-to-back wins in the Schweppes Handicap (1500m), as his number one seed for the meeting.
The four-year-old has taken the step from midweek to Saturday company in his stride and his last start win, at Randwick on May 9, is seen as something of a bonus given he’s only now hitting peak fitness.
“He’s done a good job, he’s continued to improve and done it quietly and efficiently,’’ Baker said.
“His first run was outstanding and he followed that up with a good win. I think up to the 1500m should suit, he gets into this race well at the weights and he has a good gate.
“The wet track is a bit of a concern but he has got through it okay previously.’’
Soldier Of Love was a solid $2.90 favourite with TAB on Friday.
Ex-Kiwi Starspangled Rodeo made a winning Sydney debut at Canterbury under 62.5kg earlier this month and Baker said he’s a horse with a big future.
He offers a small caveat that he’s ultimately going to be most effective over a bit further than the Exceedance @ Vinery Handicap (1300m) asks of him but isn’t talking him down.
“He’s had a bit of time between runs but he has a good gate and will be able to put himself there,’’ Baker said.
“He’s a promising horse. I thought it may be short of his best (at Canterbury) and he had a big weight but he was able to overcome it.
“I wonder whether he needs a bit further but the cut out of the track will favour him.”
While Starspangled Rodeo was a $5.50 chance, Baker is expecting stablemate Spencer ($14) to build on his promising return to racing when sixth behind boom galloper Masked Crusader.
He ran a last 600m of 35.89 (Punter's Intelligence) there but was badly held up at a vital stage and was something of a hidden run.
“I thought his run was very good first-up, he was unlucky and didn’t get clear until it was late so the run was better than it looked,’’ he said.
Soldier Of Love wins at Randwick on May 9
Wet tracker Miss Einstein is on the seven day back up after finishing second behind Opacity at Randwick and Baker, like jockey Jason Collett, expects her to race closer to the lead from a favourable barrier.
She’ll jump from gate two in the TAB Long May We Play Handicap (1400m) and Baker says that’s a key factor to winning in Saturday company.
“She’s come up another level this time in and you’re giving away a length or two at the start it makes it hard up against good horses,’’ he said.
“I think she will put herself there comfortably. She’s drawn out, previously it didn’t matter where you’ve drawn but up in class it’s a bit different.’’
Baker also starts the newly gelded Edison plus Bring The Ransom and Van Giz in race three and Echo Jet in the closer.