IN Racing
Derby contenders ready to make noise at Ellerslie
January 05, 2022

The potency of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman’s contingent for this year’s Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie will become clearer after racing at the same track on Sunday.

The Cambridge trainers have seven three-year-olds entered for the Derby on March 5, with three of those set to show their wares at this weekend’s Auckland Thoroughbred Racing meeting.

Gr.3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) winner White Noise and The Night King will tackle the Listed Te Akau Gingernuts Salver (2100m), while Regal Lion contests the Brookby Stables 1500.

Baker, who has nine Derby wins to his credit, including New Zealand Derby victories to Mongolian Khan in 2015 and Vin De Dance in 2018, was looking forward to seeing how White Noise fared for the first time over ground on Sunday.

“He covered a bit of ground last week when he made his run. That was his first run for five weeks so he’ll improve with it too,” Baker said of the El Roca gelding’s sixth placing in last week’s Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie.

“We’re happy with him and happy to give him his shot at the longer race. He’s drawn out and that 2100m start can trip them up at Ellerslie. He’s out of a Sir Percy mare and he won an English Derby so we’re keen to see if he can stay. If he proves he can, it opens up doors for him.”

White Noise has won three of his seven starts and goes into the set-weights feature as the benchmark horse, rated nine points superior to any of his rivals.

The Night King was a winner over 1600m at Te Rapa in November and gives the stable a worthy second-stringer.

“He resumed the other day and he obviously needed it. We’ll give him his chance at a middle distance and hope that he can stick,” Baker said.

Regal Lion was a 1950m winner at Rotorua in November but resumes over the shorter 1500m trip.

“He’s a horse that can stay. He had a short break and we’ve just got to see how he goes but he will stay,” Baker said.

“The 1500m will probably be a bit short for him but we’d like to see him running on and hitting the line nicely.”

The stable’s other entries for the Derby are Introvert, Privileged Son, Tiger Fire and Turn The Ace, while It’s The Vibe and Rhaegar will also represent the stable on the undercard of Sunday’s meeting.