LADIES COMBINE TO CHASE ELUSIVE GROUP 1 WIN

Champagne Cuddles and Jamie Kah are both seeking an elusive Group I win and trainer Bjorn Baker believes they could be the perfect combination in Saturday’s Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.

Both have been striving to break through at racing’s highest level for some time and will sail under the radar into the Newmarket in which Champagne Cuddles is rated a $26 chance on tab.com.au

Blinkers go on Champagne Cuddles for the first time in her 17-start career as Baker looks to sharpen her up as she drops back in distance from when finishing in the second half of the field in the Group II Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill last month.

Baker admits there weren’t a lot of available options to ride Champagne Cuddles at 52kg in the Newmarket but is happy to have the services of Kah, who will also be seeking Group I glory aboard Harlem in the Saturday’s Australian Cup.

“Jamie has never ridden for me before and it is exciting times for her and for this mare,” Baker said.

“To my eye we look to have drawn well in barrier 18 as our draw is around a lot of the favoured runners in the race.

“Hopefully we can get a nice tag into it on the back of something.

“The mare has no weight on her back, 1200m is probably right up her alley and the blinkers go on to sharpen her up.

“She is a blowout chance – I think she is probably a better chance than her odds suggest.”

Baker says punters should disregard Champagne Cuddles’ first run at Flemington when finishing third as the equal $3.20 favourite in the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) in January.

He said the mare wasn’t fully wound up on that occasion – only having the benefit of one trial.

Baker has also come to the conclusion that the four-year-old sprinter wants a good track – which she should get at Flemington on Saturday.

“The jury has been out for a while about how she goes in the wet, or on soft tracks, but I’ve worked out that I’m much happier with her on a good track,” he says.

Champagne Cuddles has run in Group Is on six occasions and been placed in four of them.

Former South Australian Kah, who moved to Victoria in January seeking more opportunities, has had 17 rides at Group I level without a win.