New Zealand stayer Lion Tamer will have his spring campaign diverted to include the W S Cox Plate if he can figure in Saturday’s Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.
“It’s not a given that he’ll run in the Caulfield Cup,” trainer Murray Baker said.
“We’re looking to see if he measures up at weight-for-age and if he does we’ll run him in the Cox Plate.”
Baker says he is happy with Lion Tamer’s progress as he aims the four-year-old towards the Melbourne Cup.
Lion Tamer goes into Saturday’s weight-for-age race after his pleasing first-up effort when fourth to King Mufhasa in the Group One Makfi Challenge (1400m) at Hastings on August 27.
That was his first outing since his runaway Victoria Derby win on a bog track in November.
“We think he’ll run a good race on Saturday although it might be a bit short but we’re happy with him,” Baker said.
The trainer said Lion Tamer would go to the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 2 after the Underwood.
“His effort at Hastings was very good as he’s not a 1400-metre horse but it suggested he could measure up.”
Finishing behind Lion Tamer at Hastings was Queensland Oaks winner Scarlett Lady who ended up seventh when attempting her seventh straight win.
The Graeme and Debbie Rogerson-trained mare will also run in the Underwood.
Lion Tamer missed the entire autumn carnival because of a cut to his hock.
Baker used industrial maggots to eat the dead flesh on the wound to accelerate the healing process.
Michael Rodd will ride Lion Tamer for the first time in the Underwood but his Derby-winning jockey Hugh Bowman is expected to take over in the big spring features.
Accompanying Lion Tamer on a spring campaign is stablemate and 2010 Caulfield Cup runner-up Harris Tweed who runs in Saturday’s Group Three Naturalism Stakes.
“He’s a skinny-looking hat-rack and he is a great eater,” Baker said.
“The 2000 metres will be too short for him.”
Baker said the six-year-old, who has run fifth in the past two Melbourne Cups, would also run in The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 2 on his way to the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
Harris Tweed won The Bart Cummings carrying 58.5kg last year after finishing eighth in the Naturalism.
Both horses are raced by their 88-year-old breeder Phil Bayly, a long-time supporter of Baker and the owner of 1980 Melbourne Cup runner-up My Blue Denim.
My Blue Denim is the great grand-dam of both Lion Tamer and Harris Tweed.
Brad Rawiller, who rode Harris Tweed last spring, partners the gelding on Saturday.