Expat Kiwi trainer Bjorn Baker still believes Celtic Prince is a stayer in the making and will give the youngster another chance to prove their potential for the longer distance features this weekend following their disappointing effort in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) last time out.
The three-year-old O’Reilly gelding had been showing Baker some promising form during the autumn indicating they could be ready for a shot at the big time.
Having won over 2300m at Newcastle back in January by a tidy eight lengths, still their only win to date from 10 starts, Celtic Prince had already emerged as a budding stayer and so they were accepted to run in the Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm over the mile and a half on June 8.
After getting checked during their run heading into the final turn however Celtic Prince didn’t recover and could only manage to finish 11 lengths away seventh to Hawkspur in the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival classic.
Baker is willing to forgive them that run however and believes that they can claw their way back and emerge a chance at the staying features in the spring.
“He had no luck at a vital stage,” Baker said of Celtic Prince’s Derby run.
They will be out to prove that on Saturday at Randwick Racecourse where they go up to the 2600m for the first time in a Benchmark 85 handicap, Celtic Prince to carry just 53kg with weights led by the Tim Donnelly-trained Murrumbidgee Cup winner Devised (62kg).
“It looks like a good race for him on Saturday,” Baker said.
“He’s a bit out of his grade but he will keep going all day and I think he can step up.”
While it is a definite pipe dream at this stage there’s a slim chance Celtic Prince could really surprise and grow and develop into a possible chance for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival majors including the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19, 2013.
Baker previously trained in New Zealand with his father Murray and has only recently established himself in Sydney where he’s been enjoying plenty of luck and relishing the lucrative prize money on offer in Australia.
“If I hadn’t come here I wouldn’t be in racing now,” Baker said.
“The prize money is so good and there are horses like Kisses coming over here now because there is nothing for them in New Zealand especially in the winter.”
The Chequers Stud-owned Kisses is a stakes winning Iffraaj filly who also steps out in Sydney this Saturday.
The three-year-old has won two of their eight starts back in New Zealand including a Listed mile feature at Riccarton Park in April.
She failed miserably in her last run when stepped up to 2000m at the same track two weeks later however failing on a Heavy (10) track when seventh to If I Can I Can beaten over 22 lengths.
Saturday she gets a chance to atone in her Australian race debut in a Benchmark 79 handicap over 1400m.
“She is new to me but so far has done everything right,” Baker said.
“She is obviously a progressive filly, her New Zealand form shows that, and if she can measure up here there is good money to be won.”