Apache Cat on target for BTC Cup
The Greg Eurell stable is confident Apache Cat is on target for a successful defence of his Group One BTC Cup crown at Doomben on Saturday.
The baldy-faced gelding worked off from the 1000 metres at Eagle Farm with heavyweight rider Peter Spargo aboard before coming home over the final 200 metres in 11.3 seconds on Tuesday.
Apache Cat, who will be ridden by Damien Oliver in the BTC Cup, won the Group One Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in February but hasn’t raced since finishing third to Takeover Target in last month’s Group One TJ Smith (1200m) at Randwick.
Eurell’s assistant trainer John Baker declared Apache Cat looked to be in the same form as last year when he narrowly fought off Adelaide mare Vormista to claim the 1200-metre BTC Cup.
“It was nice work. Even though he started a little slow he really hit his straps in the last furlong (200m),” Baker said.
“Looking at him now he looks to be every bit as good as last year and is going just as well.
“There looked to be plenty left in the tank in his work today.”
Apart from Eurell, Baker knows Apache Cat better than anyone after having travelled away with the six-year-old for most of his career.
“I’ve been away with Apache Cat every trip except the time he went to Hong Kong last year,” Baker said.
“I had no regrets missing the trip to Hong Kong as I had a wonderful time taking him to Perth even though we didn’t get the nod.”
Baker was referring to Apache Cat going down in a photo-finish to Takeover Target in the Group Two Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in November.
Apache Cat then headed to Hong Kong where he finished third to Inspiration in the Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin in December despite losing a plate.
Baker first came to Brisbane only last year when he brought Apache Cat north even though he was a successful trainer at Cranbourne for 12 years before becoming Eurell’s assistant eight years ago.
Baker, 60, is the son-in-law of the late Cyril Beechey who died almost 20 years ago after a highly-successful training career.
“I used to help Cyril out in the last couple of years of his life before he died at 78 of heart problems,” Baker said.
“I learnt a lot of my trade from Cyril.
“Until I came here last year with Apache Cat I’d never brought a horse to Brisbane even though I trained for 12 years by myself.”
Beechey is best remembered for training two Group One Caulfield Cup winners, Gay Icarus in 1971 and Analight in 1975.
His best win in Queensland was with Between Ourselves in the Group One Doomben 10,000 in 1986.
He was also runner-up with Mr Magic in two Group One Stradbroke Handicaps at Eagle Farm in 1980 and 1982.
By Glenn Davis