Kiwi candidates for the spring carnival were out in force at the Te Teko barrier trials this week and one of the most impressive was VRC Derby winner Lion Tamer.
Lion Tamer (Storming Home) is trained by Murray Baker and he turned in a bold showing to win a hit-out over 1200m. He appears to have come back a much stronger horse since injuring a hock last year and was very full of himself in the mounting yard.
Baker indicated Lion Tamer (NZ) would kick off his spring programme on August 27 in either the G2 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield or the G1 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings.
“They are both weight-for-age and we are leaning towards Melbourne at this stage,” Baker said. “We would d like to get Lion Tamer to the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup but we have entered him in the Caulfield Cup in case he misses a race along the way.”
Stablemate Harris Tweed (Montjeu) trialled publicly for the first time since a wind operation and he delighted Baker. The Cambridge conditioner suggested he will resume at Caulfield on August 27 in a 1700m handicap.
Harris Tweed is likely to follow the same path to the Melbourne Cup as last year. He won the Listed Bart Cummings Handicap (2500m) and finished second in the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) before a solid fifth placing in the G1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Another impressive trial winner was the Trent Busuttin-trained three-year-old Sangster (Savabeel). He upstaged several top-class performers including G1 winner Katie Lee (Pins). He holds an entry for the G1 Caulfield Guineas and showed plenty of ability on debut at two when scoring a dominant six length victory at Hawera.