While superstar colt It’s A Dundeel will headline Murray Baker’s assault this spring, the experienced New Zealand trainer may just have another feather in his cap.
Accompanying It’s A Dundeel, who will be aimed at the Cox Plate, in Melbourne will be rising three-year-old gelding Orion.
The son of O’Reilly has had just one start to date but showed enough on debut for Baker to book him a plane ticket across the Tasman.
In the Manfreight Juvenile 2YO Maiden (1200m) at Te Rapa in March, Orion came from last at the turn to weave his way through the field and thunder home for a convincing victory.
The performance suggested the gelding still has plenty to learn and Baker admits it is a bit of an unknown taking him to Australia.
“We’ll just take it slowly with him and hope that he can measure up over in Melbourne,” Baker told Racing Victoria.
One potential race on Orion’s radar if he can step up to the plate this spring is the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) which Baker won in 2010 with Lion Tamer.
While Baker is hopeful the emerging galloper can join the Group 1 club this spring, he remains hesitant about comparing him to either Lion Tamer or It’s a Dundeel at a similar stage.
“You never know with these horses, he’s pretty stoutly bred on the dam side,” Baker said.
“I’m not saying that he is anywhere near as good as horses like It’s A Dundeel or Lion Tamer, you have to bring these types over to Australia to see how they’ll go.”
It’s A Dundeel, meanwhile, will kick off his Cox Plate campaign in either the Group 1 Memsie Stakes on August 31 of the Makybe Diva Stakes a week later.