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Baker Rolls Merc Out Again With An Eye On The Future

Trainer Bjorn Baker has no doubt the best is yet to come with promising colt Iowna Merc and hopes to leave Randwick on Saturday with a bit of thinking to do over Christmas about what the new year could hold.

It’s been a quick rise for the three-year-old, and Baker admits he was taken a little by surprise, who in the space of 40 days went from a second in a Kembla maiden to a Randwick Benchmark 72 win.

That workload is in the back of Baker’s mind but he sees no reason not to tackle the Furphy Handicap (1200m) and give him the chance to tick a box at the trip for the future.

Baker revealed he’s had mixed opinions about Iowna Merc since he first walked into the stable and while he’s only had those four starts he’s actually in his third preparation.

“In his first prep I liked him a lot, I thought he was an athlete, and in his second prep I probably wasn’t keen on him but this prep he’s done everything you could ask for,’’ Baker said.

“He’s gone through the grades, he’s trialled well, his runs at the provincials were good and then he’s stepped up into city grade which is hard to do.

“I never stop getting surprised, there are no rules with horses and he’s one that’s probably broken the rules. He’s made giant strides.”

Iowna Merc, $3.20 with TAB on Thursday, flashed home from the back behind Shadow Vampire, who also beat him on debut, at his first city attempt at Warwick Farm a month ago then Rachel King took luck out of the equation by sitting outside the lead and proving too strong last start.

With a similar draw on Saturday, Baker expects King will adopt a similar tactic but with the knowledge that he doesn’t have to go forward to be effective.

Another win, and against horses older than four, will likely see the Warwick Farm trainer give the colt a break and set his sights a little higher.

“He has a very flexible racing pattern, he can go forward or sit off and on Saturday he’s rock hard fit so we will aim to be very positive,’’ he said.

“Having Rachel on is a big positive as well with 52.5kg. I’m looking forward to him but I’m just mindful it is his first racing prep and he has to come to the end of it at some stage.

“A lot will depend on what happens after Saturday. I still think he has more maturing to come so I’m confident he will get better as well.”

Stablemate Wategos is only 50-50 to take his place alongside Iowna Merc after drawing a wide alley, Baker said he’ll accept for Wednesday’s Gosford Guineas and work out where to go then.

The consistent Savoury is set to back up after a placing at Canterbury last Friday in the Schweppes Handicap (1600m) and he’ll drop 9kg with King riding at 52kg.

Baker said that last run was full merit after he was forced to go back and indicated he’d like to make some use of a gate closer to the fence this time around.

“We’ve had to be negative, particularly at his last start, so from a good gate maybe he can jump and put himself a bit closer,’’ he said.

“He’s had a few runs this prep but he’s not out of it, I think he’s going well.”

Realistic would describe Baker’s view of two-year-old filly Cathay Bracelet in the Drinkwise Plate (1100m) but he said the opportunity is there for her to perform.

The filly has to take on a few boom youngsters and she comes to town having finished 6.5 lengths off The Novelist at Kembla Grange two weeks ago.

“She’s not the biggest of fillies but I think she is genuine and is going to take benefit from that first-up run,’’ he said.

“We’re not getting carried away, it’s a really tough race and no doubt she will be up against it.

“But from gate one we’re hoping she can get a nice run and she can go to another level and maybe catch some of them on an off day.”

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