(By John Jenkins)
Australian-born jockey Jake Bayliss picked up a perfect going away present when he piloted Lord Arthur to victory in today’s Group 2 $100,000 Valachi Downs Championship Stakes at Ellerslie.
Bayliss wasn’t originally booked to ride Lord Arthur in the 2100m event, replacing Troy Harris who was unwell and couldn’t attend the meeting. He was also having his last day of riding in New Zealand before he heads home to concentrate on the upcoming Queensland winter carnival.
Lord Arthur was recording only his second win and was at outside odds of 20 to one. But he clearly outstayed his rivals, powering away in the final stages to win by 1-1/2 lengths from Intrigue, with Bobby Dee a further 2 lengths back in third.
Bayliss said he heard early this morning that Harris was unable to attend today’s Auckland meeting and was straight on the phone to Murray Baker to try and secure the mount.
“I came in with a fair bit of confidence after picking the ride up this morning,” Bayliss said.
“There was good speed on throughout the whole race and he was travelling so well coming to the corner.
“He gave me a good turn of foot although when we got to the front, he started to do a little bit wrong.
“In twelve months time he is going to be a key stayer for the cup races.”
Lord Arthur’s win added to another huge day for the Cambridge training partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman who also won the Listed $50,000 Champagne Stakes at Ellerslie with Quick Thinker as well as the Group 3 $A160,000 Frank Packer Plate in Sydney with The Chosen One.
“That was very impressive,” Murray Baker said.
“He’s a half-brother to Bonneval but has been a little bit immature. We’ve spaced his races and given him plenty of time.
“I gave him a stayer’s show today with plenty of pace on. He showed good acceleration.”
Baker had the inkling his charge was starting to round into form after strengthening up in recent weeks.
“He’s been a bit weak, but he’s started to get it together in the last month or so,” he said.
Baker added that there is a possibility Lord Arthur could head to the upcoming Queensland winter carnival.