Unimpeded can provide trainer Bjorn Baker with some poignant memories of his former Magic Millions winner Unencumbered if she can make a winning debut at Orange.
The striking black three-year-old filly is taking on older horses in the Epiroc Maiden (1000m).
Baker has been impressed with Unimpeded’s progress, particularly her effort to hold off subsequent city winner Bring The Magic and La Parva to win a Canterbury barrier trial over 896m last month.
“She is showing us ability,’’ Baker said of Unimpeded.
“I liked her trial win and how well she has gone since at trackwork, so she is not out of this race (today). She’ll jump and put herself right there.
“As she is by Unencumbered, I would love to get a winner by him.’’
BEST BETS WITH RAY THOMAS: CESSNOCK
BEST BET: REKINDLED FORCE (Race 4, No. 5)
Shown ability in his five starts, winning twice and being placed in a TAB Highway at Rosehill. Resuming today but his two recent barrier trials have been good. Should be too good.
NEXT BEST: BELLE DE VEGA (Race 6, No. 4)
Lot to like about the way she powered home to win her maiden at Taree. Showing promise and for the third time in as many starts has the rails barrier, giving her the run of the race.
BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE
R4: 3, 5. R5: 2, 4, 6, 9. R6: 2, 4. R7: 4, 6, 8, 12.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW: JEAN VAN OVERMEIRE
The talented apprentice, fresh from his brilliant frontrunning effort to win on Samadoubt at the Kensington meeting, has four chances, including Rekindled Force (race 4) and Pamela (race 6).
BEST BETS WITH RAY THOMAS: ORANGE
BEST BET: PERIGORD (Race 6, No. 7)
Placed in each of his three starts, including a game effort at Gosford last start when he beat all but the promising Exceltic. Taking on older horses but this looks very winnable.
NEXT BEST: REPRIMAND (Race 5, No. 5)
A little disappointing when fifth at Scone nearly a month ago. Had reeled off three impressive wins before successive defeats on soft track. Can bounce back on firmer surface.
TRAINER TO FOLLOW: BJORN BAKER
His four runners have a winning chance — Bulletson (R1), Terra Reign (R2), Unimpeded (R4) and Perigord (R6).
Unencumbered was a brilliant two-year-old Baker trained to win the 2014 Magic Millions 2YO Classic.
This race has been tinged by tragedy. Winning jockey Nathan Berry suffered a sudden illness three months later that sadly led to his passing.
Then Unecumbered was just starting a promising career as a stallion in Victoria when he contracted a throat condition and he died from complications post-surgery last year.
Unimpeded is among a powerful four-horse team Baker is sending to Orange that includes the emerging three-year-old colt Perigord in the Nagle Transport Plate (1400m).
Perigord has been placed in each of his three starts, including his most recent effort when he ran second behind the talented Exceltic over 1100m at Gosford.
Baker is convinced Perigord is looking for the extra distance of Tuesday’s race.
“The step up to 1400m is going to suit him,’’ Baker said.
“He’s a nice colt, going well. Hopefully he can break his maiden (Tuesday). He deserves a win as his form has been very good.’’
Baker is also expecting Terra Reign to be hard to beat in the Fillies and Mares Benchmark 58 Handicap (1280m).
Terra Reign has two wins and two placings from just five starts and runs into today’s race third-up from a spell after winning at Mudgee win over 1100m before her second at Orange over 1000m.
“She went back in distance last start and still ran well,’’ Baker said. “I’m sure she will also appreciate getting out in trip.
“There was the option of using an apprentice because she has plenty of weight (62.5kg) but we managed to get Greg Ryan to ride her. We have put the best on and will hope for the best.’’
Baker was a little more tempered when asked to assess Bulletson’s chances of getting the stable off to a winning start in the Orange opener, the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1280m).
“Last preparation Bulletson was disappointing and I need to get him back to best form,’’ he said.
“Hopefully we can get him into his comfort zone early and he can finish his race off strongly. I’m happy with how is he coming up this campaign, he is in good order.’’
Baker has scratched Sono Dolce from Orange due to a wide barrier but has the filly entered for a Cessnock Maiden (1350m) on Tuesday.
“She has improved since her last run, she has had two starts now and is very fit,’’ Baker said. “I couldn’t be happier with her, she gets her chance at Cessnock.’’
Baker won’t be at either venue because he is attending the Gold Coast Yearlings Sales and preparing his team for the Magic Millions meeting next Saturday.
“We have four going to the Magic Millions — Goodfella is the staying race (Trophy, 2200m), Redouble runs in the 1400m (Cup), Irithea is in the Fillies and Mares (1300m) and Eygptian Symbol might go there or the Snippets (1200m).
INSIDE MAIL WITH RAY THOMAS: CESSNOCK
Rekindled Force, winner of two of his five starts and a TAB Highway placegetter at Rosehill, resumes off a six-month break but looks a standout. He has been given two trials to prepare for his return and he impressed matching motors with the smart Star Boy at Scone last week. The one to beat. More Chilli has had his chances in successive starts since winning at Newcastle but still rates among the main dangers. Winner’s Lane is a place chance.
BET: REKINDLED FORCE TO WIN.
Faith In Kind worked home well for third to Classic Princess in a Newcastle maiden. His past two provincial efforts have been sound, he drops in weight but comes back slightly in distance. Drawn well and should go close. Truly Madly has improved steadily at the trials and is a speedy filly drawn to suit on debut. Hiemal is fitter for two runs back from a spell and Equiseta is not without claims.
BET: BOX TRIFECTA 2, 4, 6, 9.
Belle De Vega looked to be going nowhere on the turn but she powered through the pack to win her maiden at Taree. It was a blanket finish and the sectionals weren’t great but this filly showed great desire to score. Lightly raced and has more upside than her rivals. Pamela, a well-bred mare by Reset, is also entered for Orange on Tuesday and is a big chance in either race. Musical Family has been competitive in both starts this campaign and is over the odds.
BET: BELLE DE VEGA TO WIN.
Sevini was a beaten favourite first-up at Newcastle when fourth to Time And Again. She had her chance that day but will find this easier. She is awkwardly drawn but fitter now and still rates as the one to beat. Megalodon comes off a nice trial effort at Warwick Farm, Spirited Belle doesn’t need to improve much off her Newcastle effort to be in the finish and I’m wary of Cadence.
BET: SEVINI TO WIN; SAVER ON SPIRITED BELLE.
INSIDE MAIL WITH RAY THOMAS: ORANGE
Knight’s Helmet, also an acceptor at Cessnock, was placed at Bathurst three starts back and was freshened after successive unplaced runs. He looked sharp winning a Warwick Farm trial last week, although he was pushed out to the line. First starter Unimpeded was tested to win a Canterbury trial but has natural space. All Too Good has seven minor placings in 15 starts but this might be a touch short of her best. Gaze Beyond is not without some claims.
BET: KNIGHT’S HELMET TO WIN.
I’m giving Reprimand another chance. She looked very good reeling off three easy wins but has finished unplaced in her past two starts, both on soft tracks. She is back on top of the ground today and can run a much-improved race. Plenty of chances here, including the in-form Jetgirl, the very consistent Alvin Purple, underrated mate Dollar Thief and Gadfly, even though he is burdened with 64kg.
BET: REPRIMAND TO WIN.
Perigord has been paced in all three starts, including his second at Gosford, when it took a smart horse in Exceltic to run him down. This is easier and Greg Ryan rides. He ticks a lot of boxes today. Scarpa has been placed at successive starts on this track but he has a wide barrier to overcome. Reptilian Rider tried hard when second on debut at Bathurst in smart time and he will be in the finish. Greenskeeper can improve.
BET: PERIGORD TO WIN.
Larynx, a dual acceptor in race three, is a chance in either but is well placed in this race. Drawn ideally and the shorter trip is no issue. The Long Run worked to the line nicely last start when a good second and gets in well at the weights after the claim. Bush Rambler did well on debut and is drawn to get the run of the race. Huang Zhong, another dual acceptor, is racing in good form.
BET: BOX TRIFECTA 2, 3, 7, 12.