All-Star lure to coax Baster out of retirement
Mornington trainer Logan McGill wants to use a start in the All-Star Mile for his tough galloper Gold Fields to lure his great mate and neighbour Stephen Baster out of retirement.
Baster, 45, had his last ride on November 16 when he won the Group 3 Sandown Stakes on Gold Fields. Two days later he began a new career in real estate.
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McGill hopes history can repeat itself for Gold Fields and Baster in the $5 million race at Caulfield on March 14.
"He just jells with him," McGill said of horse and rider.
"It's a big race, worth $5 million so there's a big incentive for Steve to come back, and he's told me he's considering it.
"He needs to get fitter but if we can get a start then he's prepared to get there for one more farewell ride and I'll be doing my best to persuade him.
"I think if Steve said he would ride him that would translate into more votes and increase our chances (of earning a start)."
Gold Fields has been high in the voting since it opened and yesterday was in 11th position.
McGill said he and his owners had pushed hard to get Gold Fields into the race and if they got Baster to accept the challenge that could be the difference between getting in or missing out.
They have been doing video clips and promoting Gold Fields on social media. Late last week McGill's three-year-old daughter Lacey was on her pony next to Gold Fields outside his yard asking people to vote for him. On Saturday, after riding him in trackwork, McGill recorded a clip asking for votes.
"We'll push as hard as we can to get into it. He's a tough Victorian horse who is so consistent. We're under no illusions how hard it will be (to win) but if you look at his form no matter what race you put him in, as long as he gets his preferred conditions, he'll run well.
"He's a safe horse.
"Bottom line is if he doesn't get in there's effectively a $150,000 consolation race on the same program,"
His plan is for Gold Fields to resume in the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on February 29 as a lead-in to the All-Star Mile.
LET'S GET THIS STRAIGHT
VRC racing manager Leigh Jordan was not surprised by the chatter on social media surrounding Sunday's Rapid Racing meeting at Flemington.
"It's something different, it's something new and people are going to ask questions," Jordan said.
All seven races will be down the straight. The meeting starts at 4pm and the last race is at 7pm.
Jordan said the jockeys' challenge for the meeting would be modelled on similar contests in Hong Kong and at Ascot in England. Seven jockeys will be selected for two teams, City and Country, based on their positions in the jockeys' premiership.
BENJAMIN JUST WARMING UP
Anthony Freedman's success just rolls on. He has big aspirations for import Just Benjamin, who won the 1800m Mal Seccull Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday.
Freedman said he was proud of the horse's effort to win after sharing the lead as that wasn't the best way to ride him.
"We've got a win on the board," Freedman said.
"I'll wait a month and find a 2000m race, then go to the Mornington Cup, which if he wins gets him in to the Caulfield Cup."
Clinton McDonald will consider giving Caulfield winner Diamond Effort a chance to emulate her older brother Second Effort by trying to win the Wangoom Handicap, a race he won twice.
McDonald said he would try to win another mares' race with Diamond Effort, then freshen her for winter and the Warrnambool sprint.
"She's by Mossman and they get better with age," he said. "She also likes it wet."
CRANBOURNE TAKES VOW
Interesting set of trials at Cranbourne on Tuesday morning. Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare has been entered in the first at 8am.
The second trial over 990m features flying sprinter Pippie and All-Star Mile aspirants Soul Patch and Princess Jenni.
In the fifth trial is unraced two-year-old gelding Stevie, trained by Michelle Payne and owned by Stevie Payne.
The saga of the gifted Royal Symphony enters its next chapter as he will now go to stud, having been sold in an online auction to Balmoral studmaster Greg Daffy for $42,500.
He should be popular with small owner-breeders and produce a tidy profit. After all, as a three-year-old he ran fourth in the Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate.
He didn't appear again after the 2017 Cox Plate due to injuries until last year's Melbourne Cup carnival, when he ran last in a 1200m race.
THIS WEEK'S RACING
A huge week coming up with 13 meetings. Racing is at Warrnambool on Tuesday. Ararat races on Wednesday and Ballarat hosts the twilight.
Thursday's double header is Kilmore then Pakenham. Friday's meeting is at Wodonga before 10 races at the Valley.
Saturday is at Caulfield, Yarra Valley and Woolamai.