Muswellbrook preview: Baker to kick start the New Year with a treble

Trainer Bjorn Baker is optimistic in-form trio Dynamic Impact, Solva and Ita can provide his first winners for the New Year by cleaning up with a stable hat-trick at Muswellbrook on Tuesday.

Dynamic Impact is TAB Fixed Odds favourite at $2.70 for the Merchant Navy Yearlings Class 1 Handicap (1280m) and Ita is also at the top of betting at $2.15 for the TAB Rewards Maiden (1500m).

Solva is prominent in overnight markets at $5 for the Two Rivers Wines Class 1 Handicap (1280m).

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Jockey Chad Lever will partner the Bjorn Baker-trained Dynamic Impact at Muswellbrook on Tuesday. Photo: Simon Bullard/AAP ImageSource:AAP

Baker is particularly confident with Dynamic Impact after the chestnut broke his maiden last start with an emphatic win by more than four lengths at Goulburn.

“Dynamic Impact is a horse I’ve always thought a bit of so it was good to see him win like that,’’ Baker said.

“It’s done his confidence the world of good and he has trained on well since that race.’’

Ita, by leading sire All Too Hard, dominates the betting to win her maiden after showing promise at just her second start when the filly ran on well for second at Canberra.

“I thought she was really good last start,’’ Baker said of Ita.

“She is getting up a bit in trip to 1500m which is what she needs, she has a good gate and should be strong at the finish.’’

Solva, by rising stallion Exosphere, also takes winning form to Muswellbrook after scoring impressively at Orange when resuming last month.

“She ran very fast time at Orange, it was a great return by her,’’ Baker said.

“The way she hit the line that day the 1280m should really suit her.’’

Promising Darley stallion Exosphere is the sire of Solva. Photo: David Moir/AAP ImageSource:AAP

Baker has been in the Hunter Valley inspecting yearlings since Christmas and is now holidaying with his young family near Bryon Bay so he can attend the Magic Millions Carnival on the Gold Coast next week.

But the trainer made sure he was watching Sky Thoroughbred Central’s coverage of the Rosehill barrier trials yesterday morning when his quality mare Irithea won her 1030m heat.

“I was very happy with her trial, she is all set for the Magic Millions,’’ Baker said. “She is right on song and hopefully it is third time lucky for her.’’

Irithea is returning for the $1 million Magic Millions Fillies and Mares (1300m) on January 16, a race she has contested the previous two years finishing fourth (2019) and second (2020) behind dual winner Invincibella.

Baker said Irithea will be joined by stablemates Edison, Redouble, Frosty Rocks and Lady Of Luxury for the Magic Millions race meeting.

“We might not be as strong as recent years but we still have a few darts to throw,’’ Baker said.

Bjorn Baker’s Irithea will return to the Gold Coast next week for the $1 million Magic Millions Fillies and Mares. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Kris Lees is taking the unusual step of giving juvenile filly Asherla her first start against older horses in the Horsepower Maiden (900m) which opens the Muswellbrook meeting.

Asherla showed impressive speed to lead throughout to win a Wyong barrier trial over 845m in smart time last month, convincing Lees she is ready to go to the races.

“I don’t often run two-year-olds against older horses this early in the season but it was more about trying to find the right race for Asherla,” Lees explained.

“She is a speedy little thing but I didn’t think she was ready for city level first time out so I decided on this race at Muswellbrook over the 900m.

“I will probably run her but I just want to see how heavy the track is – I’d be reluctant to send a first starter out on real testing ground.’’

Kris Leescan bookend the meeting at Muswellbrook on Tuesday. Photo: Mark Evans/AAP ImageSource:AAP

Muswellbrook was close to getting back into the soft range late yesterday before more showers swept through, leaving the track at a heavy 8.

Lees could “bookend” the Muswellbrook program as he has Snitzari resuming in the closer, a Class Two Handicap (1000m).

Snitzari has only had three starts, winning over 900m at Newcastle last season then resuming in August with a fourth placing at the same track.

“She didn’t come up last preparation so we didn’t push on after her first start,’’ Lees said.

“But she is back in good order now and this Muswellbrook race is a nice option for her.’’


Frontline can continue a breeding formula trainer Rod Northam has used with success and maintain the perfect start to his race career in the Two Rivers Wines Class 1 Handicap (1280m) at Muswellbrook today.

The chestnut is a four-year-old gelding by Time For War out of the maiden mare Catgut, herself a daughter of champion, Octagonal, winner of 10 Group 1 races and nearly $5.9 million prizemoney.

Octagonal was voted Horse of the Year in 1995-96 and his son, Lonhro, claimed the same title in 2003-04 during his spectacular race career that yielded 11 Group 1 wins and earnings of $5.7 million.

Lonhro became a champion stallion at Darley Stud and has won a national sires premiership but Octagonal wasn’t a great success at stud.

Champion racehorse Octagonal is the dam-sire of Frontline.Source:News Limited

Octagonal sired 25 individual stakes winners but he has done better as a broodmare sire with 40 stakes winners including the likes of Rain Affair, Mighty Lucky, Albrecht, Altar, Ruthven and Washington Heights.

“I have had a lot of luck with horses out of Octagonal mares,’’ Northam revealed. “And I really like Frontline, he has a lot of upside.’’

Frontline, who boasts a double cross of legendary sire Zabeel and on his dam’s side is from the same family of great New Zealander Balmerino, did well on debut to overpower Kennywyn and Foxstorm to win at Scone over 1100m three weeks ago. Foxstorm has since come out and won at Gilgrandra to frank the form.

“I have had Frontline for two preparations and he has always shown good ability,’’ Northam said.

“Frontline has only just got to the races because his owner, a local builder Alan Eather, wanted to give the horse plenty of time as he was out of an Octagonal mare and hopefully he is getting the rewards for his patience.

Trainer Rodney Northam has a good opinion of Frontline who is looking to maintain his unbeaten record. Photo: David Moir/AAP ImageSource:AAP

“His two barrier trials have been similar to his race where he has loomed up and really attacked the line although he is still ‘green’.

“It is quite hard to win your first two starts and he is in a competitive race but he will take improvement from his Scone win where he showed he can handle wet tracks.’’

Muswellbrook is rated a heavy 8 for today’s meeting with Frontline rated the $3.80 TAB Fixed Odds favourite to retain his unbeaten record.

Northam’s other Muswellbrook entry, Mother’s Day is the $3.20 favourite to win the Great Northern Maiden (1280m) but the trainer said the mare is not a certain starter.

“It’s doubtful I will run her with the big weight (59kg), wide barrier and heavy track,’’ Northam said. “I think I might wait for Newcastle next week.’’

Originally published asMuswellbrook preview: Baker’s New Year triple treat

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