Lion Tamer has been set on a path to join illustrious company if he wins Saturday’s Caulfield Stakes and goes on to take out the $3 million Cox Plate.
A dominant winner of the Victoria Derby (2500m) last spring, Lion Tamer has already made his mark in Melbourne this spring with his victory in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield at his second start back after a long layoff due to a cut hock.
Those to win the Underwood, Caulfield Stakes and Cox Plate in the one year include So You Think (2010), Northerly (2001), Almaarad (1989) and New Zealander Bonecrusher (1986).
Trainer Murray Baker has selected the Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 over Saturday week’s $2.5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) as Lion Tamer’s lead-up to his ultimate goal, the $6 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1.
So You Think was the only horse of the above four who went on to the Melbourne Cup, finishing third to Americain last year.
“Mr Bayly his owner is 88. He ran second in the Melbourne Cup with My Blue Denim (in 1980),” Baker said.
“Harris Tweed has run a couple of fifths for him and he’s dead keen to win the Melbourne Cup so we hope to be starting in it.”
Michael Rodd, who rode Lion Tamer in the Underwood, again takes the mount on Saturday as his Derby-winning rider Hugh Bowman is serving a careless riding suspension incurred last Sunday at Flemington.
Lion Tamer enjoyed a good midfield trail before winning the Underwood from Southern Speed and Midas Touch.
“I think Michael Rodd rode him perfectly at Caulfield and I’d say he’d ride him in much the same vein, I’d say he’d be thereabouts,” Baker said.
“You never know if they back up third-up after a long break but we’ve got a healthy horse on our hands and we just hope he runs on well.”
The last New Zealand-trained gallopers to win the Caulfield Stakes were Rough Habit (1994) and Castletown (1992).
New Zealanders have a strong hand in the Cox Plate with the likes of favourite Jimmy Choux and Lion Tamer.
The John Bary-trained Jimmy Choux, a five-time Group One winner, is the $4.60 favourite with TAB Sportsbet and won’t run again before the big race, while Lion Tamer shares the second line of betting at $7 with Caulfield Guineas favourite Helmet.
“Jimmy Choux is a proven horse and he’s been going very well on his home track at Hastings,” Baker said.
“In three races he’s run excellently so he’s obviously got to be a show in the Cox.”
Lion Tamer is $3 favourite for the Caulfield Stakes with At First Sight at $5, Sincero at $6, Alcopop at $7, Lights Of Heaven at $9 and Hong Kong galloper Mighty High at $11.