By Ray Hickson
It’s never easy to return from an injury enforced break of over a year but trainer Bjorn Baker rates Prime Candidate highly and is looking for a cheeky comeback at Rosehill on Saturday.
The four-year-old has been off the scene with a feltock injury since May last year where he was charging through the grades winning four of his first five starts.
Baker said Prime Candidate has always excited him and while he’s sure he’ll run a handy race fresh he isn’t placing high expectations on him in the Pacific Boating Handicap (1100m).
“It’s a long time off but he’s a promising horse. There’s a good chance he may need it but he has quality,’’ Baker said.
“I think he’s well, he will put himself there and he’ll be there with a couple of hundred to run but he may just need it when the pressure is applied.’’
The gelding has only had one trial ahead of his first-up run and that was at Hawkesbury on July 15 where he was narrowly beaten by Greyworm over 800m.
Prime Candidate ($9 with TAB) and Greyworm ($2.80) will stand next to each other in the stalls at Rosehill on Saturday and their racing patterns suggest they could also be in close proximity in the run.
“He looks magnificent, he’s only had the one trial due to the wet weather but he’s been in work a long time,’’ Baker said.
“He’s had a lot of pre-training, his fetlock gas been good. It’s not an easy race to kick off in but he’s at a tricky rating so we’ve had to look to Saturday.’’
Baker didn't roll out the old 'whatever he does he'll improve on' chestnut but that goes without saying for a horse on the comeback trail and Prime Candidate is a horse the trainer hopes can continue his march through the grades next season.
It’s a safe bet that of Baker’s Rosehill trio it's honest mare Connemara who his best winning chance and she has the form on the board with a close second to Notation last month to back that up.
She ran 34.71 for her last 600m, and her last 200m of 11.87 was a length faster than anything else (Punter's Intelligence), to just miss and there’s no Notation in the Refinitiv Handicap (1200m).
“Obviously the form stacks up very nicely,’’ Baker said.
“We took a step back, I think she is a bit better fresh and we had a look at this race and it seems to have worked out well.
“She’s fit enough, she trialled last week with no pressure on so I think she will run a good race.’’
Prime Candidate runs second in a Hawkesbury trial on July 15
Connemara is a clear $2.70 favourite with TAB to break through while Baker is expecting his other runner Goodfella to be in somewhere the mix in the Listed $150,000 Maldives Travel Connection Winter Challenge (1500m).
A handy midfield finish when resuming in the Winter Stakes (1400m) two weeks ago tells the trainer that Goodfella ($14) has come back well.
“He normally does improve a fair bit from his first to second start so that gives you a bit of confidence,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, classy mare Champagne Cuddles is set to resume in the Sheraco Stakes (1200m) on September 14 and Baker is keeping some lofty goals on the radar.
“She was unlucky not to run second in a TJ Smith so we might have a crack at the Premiere and you could mount a case for her for the Everest,’’ he said.