Nom Du Jeu to put Cox Plate credentials on the line
A start in the Cox Plate will be on the line for star New Zealander Nom Du Jeu who has to win Saturday’s Craven Plate at Randwick to convince connections to press on to the weight-for-age championship.
"He would probably have to win on Saturday and it would have to be a dominant victory," said Bjorn Baker, who co-trains Nom Du Jeu with his father Murray.
"There is a lot hingeing on Saturday."
The 2008 AJC Australian Derby winner has been battling cannon bone soreness and the Bakers have been racing the clock to get him on track for a spring carnival assault.
They have already abandoned plans for a Cups campaign but remain hopeful of getting Nom Du Jeu to the Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
The five-year-old has had one run back in New Zealand, finishing second over 1600 metres on September 20, and Bjorn Baker says they have taken plenty of positives from the run.
"He wasn’t going too well at all and four or five weeks ago we thought he was no chance to get over (to Australia)," Baker said.
"But he really turned the corner, his first-up run was good so we’re happy with him.
"Although we’re not going into the race on Saturday with heaps of confidence, if he is back to his best then he should win or go very close."
If Nom Du Jeu doesn’t do enough to press on to the Cox Plate, Baker says the entire is still likely to go to Melbourne where races like the Sandown Classic and Mackinnon Stakes will be among the secondary options.
Stablemate Mr Tipsy is also likely to head to Melbourne despite finishing unplaced at his last two starts in the Kingston Town Stakes and Colin Stephen Quality.
Baker says the stable is still looking into the reasons for the disappointing showings but suspect the tracks in Sydney have been too firm.
AJC Australian Derby runner-up Harris Tweed will join Nom Du Jeu and Mr Tipsy in Melbourne after contesting the Group One Kelt Capital Stakes in New Zealand on Saturday.
The four-year-old has been set for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
The Bakers will be hoping their luck takes a turn for the better this weekend after another horse they brought over from New Zealand, Mountain Road, broke a leg during trackwork while being prepared for the Newcastle Cup
By Mandy Cottell