Candidate’s chances hinge on track

Track conditions will determine whether Prime Candidate takes his place in the Festival Stakes with the gelding an unlikely starter if the surface deteriorates to heavy. While the seven-year-old can handle soft tracks, trainer Bjorn Baker is not keen to run him on anything worse. 

“He is one where, if it does get really wet, he would be in some doubt about running,” Baker said. “The better the track, the better for him so we will just have to weigh it up.” 

Bjorn Baker has some very interesting runners at Rosehill on Saturday, picture

Prime Candidate placed in his first three campaign runs, two of them at stakes level, then was made to work for the lead in The Hunter and tired over the final stages in a race dominated by the run-on horses. A winner up to 1400 metres, he will extend to 1500 metres for the first time in the Festival Stakes, but Baker is comfortable the horse will handle the journey. 

“He just had no luck in The Hunter. He went forward and was just never really comfortable with the way the race panned out,” Baker said. “I don’t mind the 1500. He hasn’t been over it but at Rosehill, he will be able to roll forward and probably lead comfortably enough if we choose to go that way.” 

Baker is considering his options for two-year-old Acappella Sun, who has been accepted for the opening race at Rosehill along with an easier assignment at Canberra a day earlier. However, he will saddle up debutante Emilia Romagna in the Elite Sand & Soil Handicap (1100m). A beautifully bred daughter of Pierro out of Group 1 winner Griante, the filly fetched $550,000 as a Magic Millions yearling. 

Named after a region of Italy famed for its gastronomic and wine-making traditions, Emilia Romagna has finished second in both barrier trials, coming from off the speed in her first hitout and urged forward to take up a handy position at her latest behind Saturday’s rival Victorine. 

“Her trials have been really good, better than the results have suggested,” Baker said. “She has got a good attitude, so she can go back or go forward. She is a lovely filly, a good size and she is very relaxed.” 

Emilia Romagna is raced in partnership by Spendthrift Farm and micro-share syndicators MyRacehorse.