Talented four-year-old Lion Tamer has not had a start since he won last year’s Victoria Derby in sizzling style, but the horse is already preparing for another Melbourne spring onslaught in the coming months.
The Storming Home entire won his first trial at New Zealand’s Te Teko Racecourse against a quality field earlier in the week.
“He had a trial on Tuesday, a ten horse open trial,” trainer Murray Baker said.
“He won the trial, the second horse was a Group 2 winner and the third horse was Harris Tweed, so there were some handy horses in it.
“He’s got that bit of class.
“It was his first time he’d been out since (winning the Victoria Derby at) Flemington.”
Lion Tamer was unable to partake in the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival after he sustained an injury to his back leg.
“He cut his hock last year just across the back; it was one of those places where you couldn’t stitch,” Murray said.
“Consequently we couldn’t get him ready for the autumn so we decided not to race him and gave him a spell and he’s back now.
“We really would have liked to take him to Sydney for the autumn.
“Time heals most things and he’s come back as good as gold.”
Murray is yet to decide whether to run Lion Tamer at New Zealand’s Hastings Racecourse on August 27, or take him to the Group 2 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on the same day.
“He’ll either go to Hastings… or the same day he’ll go to Caulfield,” Murray said.
“We’ll probably be leaning towards Melbourne, it doesn’t matter whatever the weather because the horse can go on a firm track.”
Murray says Lion Tamer will take much needed fitness from his next run, as there has been a shortage of trials available to them in New Zealand.
“Being so long off the scene he’ll probably need a race at that level, but who knows, you’ve got to be in it to win it,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of cancellation of trials and that’s half the problem.
“Te Teko’s not too bad, for all the tracks we’ve had in this area it’s probably the best one.”
Lion Tamer will be aimed towards the $3 million Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.
“We haven’t really worked (his full schedule) out but we’d be just working up to the longer distance at weight-for-age,” Murray said.
Murray will also be travelling the talented Harris Tweed to Melbourne for the spring features.
“We’ll take Harris Tweed over with him, they’re both owned by the same owner,” Murray said.
“He had a wind operation in the autumn, same as So You Think, he seems to have come back good as gold.”
The trainer was surprised with Harris Tweed’s thirds placing in Tuesday’s trial.
“He surprised us all to get third because he’s never showed up in a trial in his life,” he said.
The six-year-old gelding will most likely have his first run back on the same day as Lion Tamer at Caulfield.
“There’s a 1700 metre race at Caulfield on the same day,” Murray said.
Lion Tamer has already been nominated for both the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup, while Harris Tweed also features in the early Caulfield Cup nominations.