In a week when he has farewelled one of his stable stalwarts, Bjorn Baker is looking to another to rise to the occasion and land an overdue Group One win.
Despite the retirement of multiple stakes winner Egyptian Symbol, Baker will head to the final day of Sydney autumn carnival at Randwick on Saturday with a strong arsenal of runners headed by classy sprinter Champagne Cuddles.
She will take her place in the All Aged Stakes (1400m) where she will bid to add to the good recent record of mares who have won four of the past nine.
Champagne Cuddles has competed at a high level throughout her career and after having to settle for minor spoils in four Group One races, Baker figures she is due for a change of luck.
A closing last-start fourth to Santa Ana Lane in the TJ Smith Stakes, a race considered one of the best sprint fields assembled for some time, has only fuelled his fire.
“It was a fantastic run and she was probably a bit stiff not to run second,” Baker said.
“Once again, she was up against some really good horses and she’s been knocking on the door in Group Ones. She deserves her chance at it.
“It’s not an easy race, it never is in Group Ones, but she’s really well.”
A field of 14 will line up in the final Group One race of the Sydney autumn with Osborne Bulls an early favourite to break his duck after three successive seconds at the top level.
He will be one of three runners for Godolphin along with James Cummings-trained stablemate Home Of The Brave and international raider D’Bai for Godolphin’s English-based trainer Charles Appleby.
Training partners Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have confirmed Naantali will make the journey from Melbourne to take her place in the field after landing an impressive last-start win at Caulfield.
The mare is due to arrive in Sydney on Thursday where she will be one of two Group One runners for the stable along with Loving Gaby, the early favourite for the Champagne Stakes.
“We’ve got her in the All Aged because she was so impressive at Caulfield over the 1400,” Eustace said.
“It’s obviously a big ask, a Group One, but hopefully she can get the job done.”