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Baker Hoping Missile's Just The First Mountain For Babe To Climb

By Ray Hickson

It’s that time of year where if you’ve got a fringe Everest horse it’s time to make a statement and trainer Bjorn Baker is producing the first of two horses he hopes could attract slot holder attention when Belluci Babe resumes at Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer Bjorn Baker (Pic: Bradley Photos).

The six-year-old came of age last season graduating from a Benchmark 78 win at the start of her spring to Group 3 winner and recorded fourths in two big Group 1 sprints.

Baker said she appears to have come back in fine fettle and a strong performance in the Group 2 $250,000 Expedo Missile Stakes (1200m) is on the cards.

“She races well at Randwick, she’s super consistent, she can go on good track and bad tracks and I think you can mount a good case that her form warrants having a good crack (at an Everest slot),’’ he said.

“She was a very good fourth in the Galaxy and in the TJ Smith which I think will hold her in good stead.

“I think I’ve got two horses I can mount a case for, both her and Overpass.

“He’s going to trial next week, you go back to the Expressway he was a very good winner of that. It was a hard autumn but he was right there with Belluci Babe all the way.”

Belluci Babe, $6 with TAB on Thursday, has been prepared by Baker for the Missile with two barrier trials and he warns not to pay too much attention to the fact she didn’t win the second.

He’s also booked James McDonald, who rode her to her Group 3 win back in March, to ride and is more than happy to give away 1kg to have the six time Sydney champion jockey in the saddle.

“She has a good gate on Saturday and she gets into the race very well at the weights,’’ he said.

“James is going to be 1kg over but she’s New Zealand owned and they are happy to have James on.

“James was thrilled with her first trial. The track at Gosford was a little bit shifty and not quite ideal so she wasn’t asked for a full effort there.”

While an Everest slot is the dream, Baker said there’s more than enough options for Belluci Babe, and Overpass, should one not materialise and he’d have no hesitation in pointing them towards the $2 million Sydney Stakes on the same day.

Baker’s smart mare Champagne Cuddles ran second to Deprive in the 2019 Sydney Stakes while Prime Candidate, also an acceptor for the Missile, finished third to Big Parade last year.

“If you don’t make the Everest it’s a pretty good consolation and I think either of those horses would have a good look at that race as well,’’ he said.

As for Prime Candidate, Baker wants a drying Randwick to give the honest gelding his best chance to regain top form after battling on a heavy track last weekend.

Though he wasn’t disgraced finishing two lengths from Easy Single, the trainer says he’s not the same horse in the wet.

Belluci Babe runs third in a Gosford trial on July 29

“He’s going really well, he just needs a bit of luck,’’ he said.

“He is better on top of the ground and it didn’t work out his way last week on a wetter track.”

Grafton Cup winner Arapaho has been freshened up since his stakes win last month and Baker said he’ll have his chance to run well with just 55.5kg in the Recovery Partners Premier’s Cup Prelude (1800m).

“Coming back in trip is a bit of a question mark but he has Dylan Gibbons on who rode him when he won by a big margin so he gets into this race at the weights very well,’’ he said.

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

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