Securing an ideal inside barrier draw has put the final piece in the puzzle for the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained The Chosen One ahead of Tuesday’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The proven stayer, who finished fourth to European raider Twilight Payment in the 2020 edition of the race that stops a nation, passed a final vet check on Friday morning and will take his place in the field from barrier 5, carrying 54kgs and with regular rider Damian Lane aboard.
Despite disappointing in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) at his last start, where he dropped away after over-racing badly in the first part of the race, Baker is pleased with his charge just 48 hours out from the race.
“Getting that inside draw was vital to his chances as it allows Damian to get him handy in the early rush without pushing him along,” Baker said.
“He pulled badly in the Caulfield Cup as he got fired up in the early stages and just had nothing left for the finish.
“That is very unlike him, so we’ve taken the blinkers off for Tuesday to help him settle and I’ve been very pleased with his work in the build-up.
“He is a proven stayer who ran fourth in the race last year, while he also has a runner-up finish in the Sydney Cup (Group 1, 3200m) so we know the trip won’t worry him.
“You always need that bit of luck on your shoulder, but he has an experienced big race jockey aboard, the weather and track looks like it will be perfect, so it is up to the horse now.”
The six-year-old Savabeel entire, who is raced by a syndicate of Kiwis including breeders the Dennis Brothers, is rated a +4000 chance by the New Zealand TAB.
The Chosen One faces what appears to be an even field with the exception of race favourite Incentivise, who has swept all before him with nine consecutive victories culminating in a three and a half length romp in the Caulfield Cup.
“There is no such thing as a poor Melbourne Cup field and this year will be no exception,” Baker said.
“The favourite has to carry 57kgs which is a good steadier, but he is a very good horse who might just be a superstar.
“Anything can happen when you step up to the 3200m and something might get brave and have a crack at him to make it even harder under that weight, but that might be the only way he gets beaten.
“What I know is that we have a very fit horse, who has had a good prep and has a few things in his favour, so I’m hoping he can go a good race.”
There are two generations of the Baker family with runners in Tuesday’s race, with Baker’s son Bjorn lining up promising mare She’s Ideel, however luck with the barrier draw didn’t strike twice with the six-year-old starting from gate 20 in the 24-horse field.
“It’s a bit of a shame for Bjorn that his mare drew so wide as I think she is very promising and got into the race with a nice light weight (52kgs),” Baker said.
“We haven’t had any real banter over how the result between our two might play out, although I know I will be thrilled for him to see his horse run well and I know he will feel the same for us.
“Unfortunately, we can’t be in Melbourne to watch the race, so I will settle for a spot on the couch here at home and take it all in on the television, which we have had to do a fair bit over the last few months.
“Mind you if we win it won’t matter where we are as there will be some celebrating to do.”