Talented filly Champagne Cuddles will take another step towards her Group One debut when she runs in the Tea Rose Stakes at Randwick.
The highly rated three-year-old is being set for the Flight Stakes (1600m) on September 30 and trainer Bjorn Baker is running her at Group Two level for the third time on Saturday.
Champagne Cuddles tackles 1400 metres for the first time and although recent nemesis Formality is not in the field, Baker is cautious about the TAB’s $3.40 pre-race favourite.
“Her first two runs have been great. We haven’t had a lot of luck with the gate and that’s probably the case again,” Baker said.
Whispered Secret’s withdrawal brings Champagne Cuddles in one barrier to eight of 11 in a quality Tea Rose Stakes field featuring Tulip and the Godolphin duo Alizee and Regimen.
Champagne Cuddles was third in the Silver Shadow Stakes to Formality and Alizee and then improved to second in the Furious Stakes, a half-head behind Formality.
Baker said the Tea Rose would be a useful stepping stone to the Flight Stakes and would not quite rule Champagne Cuddles out of an Everest call-up.
The ex-pat New Zealander had earmarked Music Magnate for the inaugural $10 million Everest at Randwick on October 14 but the gelding won’t race until the new year after chipping a fetlock in May.
“Champagne Cuddles would have to do something amazing tomorrow. If she won the Everest is still an option but probably a long shot,” Baker said.
Baker also saddles up Goodfella for the first time since the colt was fourth in January’s 2YO Magic Millions (1200m) in the Listed Heritage Stakes (1100m).
Goodfella had a tie-back operation during his spell and Baker was interested to see how he re-acclimatised to racing.
“There’s always a bit of a question mark getting back to race conditions and when the pressure goes on. You can’t really be sure until they run,” he said.