Newcastle Cup a goal for Harpo Marx
Bjorn Baker will use the Premier’s Cup as an important spring stepping stone for emerging stayer Harpo Marx, with the race set to provide the import with his most significant class test.
The Darby Racing gelding struck form during the winter, posting victories over 2000m at Randwick in July and 2400m at the same venue earlier this month.
He will come back in distance for Saturday’s Premier’s Cup (2000m) at Kembla Grange as part of a slight reshuffle to his program.
“The Wyong Cup was initially on our radar, but we’ve changed that around now and he will head to the Newcastle Cup,” Baker said.
“It’s not an easy race and there are a lot of class horses there so this is another step for him.
“He’s come through his last run well and he drops 10 kilos or so in the weights.”
Harpo Marx lumped 62.5kg in his latest win and will carry 53kg on Saturday, although the drop in the handicaps is offset by a rise in grade.
His rivals include proven Group performers Spirit Ridge, Dashing Willoughby, Inverloch and Young Rascal, along with Baker’s current stable boarder Quick Thinker.
The latter is prepared by Baker’s New Zealand-based father Murray and his training partner Andrew Forsman and is staying at Warwick Farm throughout his Australian spring campaign.
The Group One winner resumed with a distant last in the Rowley Mile when he didn’t stretch out on the firm track and Baker is expecting Quick Thinker to bounce back on a rain-affected surface at Kembla.
“He looks really well and he’s in good order. I can’t knock him,” Baker said.
Co-trainer Michael Freedman is also looking for improvement from Young Rascal, who will be having his second start for the stable.
The gelding hasn’t won a race since taking out the Manion Cup 18 months ago and needs to lift on his last-start fifth to Laure Me In at Kembla.
“Track-wise, he’s going to get conditions to suit and with the extra fitness under his belt, you’d like to see him start to show some signs of his old form,” Freedman said.