First up specialist Champagne Cuddles will be chasing a slot for The Everest when she steps out in the Group 2 $200,000 Irresistible Pools Sheraco Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Champagne Cuddles is the winner of three of her four first up attempts and trainer Bjorn Baker is hoping for another first up win which will grab the attention of the two remaining slot holders, the ATC and Max Whitby, who are still looking for a candidate for the $13m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 13.
“We’ll take it as we see it. She did a great job last season and I think she will kick off well,’’ Baker told Racing New South Wales News Desk.
“She’s still a chance to get into the Everest but there are races like the Golden Pendant in a couple of weeks.’’
The new season four year old mare will be having her first run back since finishing eleventh to Prompt Response in the Group 1 $500,000 Sky Racing Tattersall’s Club Tiara (1350m) at Doomben during the 2018 Brisbane Winter Carnival.
But Champagne Cuddle’s form before that was first class with four Group 1 placings at her five previous starts which included a third behind The Everest bound Santa Ana Lane and Super Cash in the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben.
Champagne Cuddles has had two recent barrier trials in preparation for her return to the race track with a second over 1000m at Rosehill followed by a win over 1000m at Gosford and Baker is expecting a bold first up performance.
“She’s in good order, her two trials have been good,’’ Baker said.
“I’m really happy with her, she’s drawn one and that’s the shortest way home. I’d like to think she’s continuing to get better.
“We’ll find out a bit more on Saturday. I think 1200m will suit her and a little bit of cut in the track.’’
James McDonald will be having his first race day ride on Champagne Cuddles who has drawn the inside barrier in the Sheraco Stakes field which has been reduced to fourteen fillies and mares following the early scratching of the James Cummings trained Jorda.
Baker will also saddle up last start Group 3 Toy Show Quality winner Egyptian Symbol who will jump from gate seven with Jason Collett in the saddle.
Champagne Cuddles has been installed a clear cut $3.10 favourite for the Sheraco Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au with her nearest rival in the betting being the Ron Quinton trained Daysee Doom at $7.50 while stablemate Egyptian Symbol is marked as a $9 chance.