Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman hold a strong hand heading into the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday, but are disappointed they haven’t been able to give last-start Group One winner Madison County a lead-in run ahead of the three-year-old feature.
The Pins gelding hasn’t raced since winning the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November, but his connections remain upbeat about his chances heading into the race.
“He’s had a gallop between races. We’ve got him as fit as we can, but unfortunately there wasn’t a 1400m lead-in race,” Baker said.
“We didn’t want to trial him at Cambridge on Tuesday because it was too close to the race, but we’re happy enough with him though.”
Madison County was purchased out of Waikato Stud’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale draft by the China Horse Club for $36,000 and is being set for a tilt at the rich Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie later this month.
“His main target for the summer is the million dollar race (Karaka Million),” Baker said.
Baker rates his charge and expects a good showing from him on Saturday.
“He shapes up alright, he doesn’t do a lot on the track, so he’s a hard horse to get a line on,” Baker said.
“In the same token, he doesn’t need a lot because he’s not a big heavy horse, he’s lighter framed.”
TAB bookmakers have labelled Madison County a $2.20 heavy favourite for the Trentham mile as of Tuesday, while Hypnos has been marked a $4.80 chance, and Lincoln Falls and Surely Scared share equal third favouritism at $6.50.
The Baker-Forsman stable will also line-up stakes-winning filly Espresso Martini in the Levin Classic.
The daughter of High Chaparral finished fifth in the Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) on a heavy10 track at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and Baker believes she will appreciate firmer track conditions at Trentham on Saturday.
“Espresso Martini couldn’t cop that track at Ellerslie, but I’m confident she’ll run a mile,” he said. “A firm track shouldn’t worry either of them.”
In-form hoop Matthew Cameron will retain his mount on Madison County, while $26-shot Espresso Martini will be ridden by Michael Coleman. – NZ Racing Desk