A late nomination to contest the Group One feature at Trentham on Saturday paid dividends for the connections of quality performer The Chosen One as the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained runner scored a stunning victory in the Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m).
Having his first start since running a gallant fifth in the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) back in November, the six-year-old Savabeel entire looked well suited under the set weights and penalties conditions of the race, having to carry just 55kgs in the contest.
Rider Matt Cameron had The Chosen One beautifully positioned in fourth throughout as he tracked a solid pace set up by Wild Moose, before angling into a challenging position rounding the home bend.
Momentarily headed by Harlech with 300m to run, The Chosen One unwound powerfully for Cameron as he burst clear to win comfortably by just on three lengths from Coventina Bay, who stormed home along the rail to snatch second from a brave Mali Ston who also made up good ground in the closing stages.
Cameron was thrilled to see The Chosen One add a deserved Group One victory to his career record.
“Sometimes these stallions only do what they have to until you ask them,” he said.
“I gave him one behind the saddle and he really accelerated and showed that determination to win, which was just awesome.
“I’m lucky that Murray and Andrew support me and when you get these big race wins it makes it all worthwhile.”
Murray Baker, who was watching on from his Cambridge home as he continues to rehabilitate after having a knee replacement operation, was thrilled that a plan hatched while the horse was spelling after his Melbourne exertions had come to fruition.
“It was a very good effort,” he said.
“He had a month in the paddock when he came home from Melbourne, but he had retained a fair bit of fitness.
“He also has an excellent fresh-up record, so we studied the conditions of this race and decided to have a crack at it.
“He’s won more than twice the prizemoney of any of his rivals and with the light weight we thought he could be pretty competitive, as he has raced against some of the best in Australia and hasn’t been disgraced.
“It was a lovely ride by Matt and it’s a thrill to win the race for everyone involved in him.”
The win brought up the 56th Group One victory for Baker, with 22 of those coming in Australia and he will look to extend that record with The Chosen One in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa next month before another Australian campaign.
“He ran second in the Herbie Dyke fresh-up last year so it would be nice to think he might be able to go one better this year,” Baker said.
“That is the natural target for him and then we will have a think about taking him to Sydney in the spring for a race like the Sydney Cup (Gr.1, 3200m).
“He is just so versatile and I would think the win today has definitely set him up for a stud career once he has finished on the track, as he comes from a fabulous family and is by a champion sire.”
Bred by Tony, Joe, Ray and Martin Dennis, The Chosen One becomes the 27th individual Group One winner for Waikato Stud’s outstanding stallion Savabeel.
The six-year-old entire is out of the Group Three-placed Flying Spur mare The Glitzy One, who won eight races from 1400m to 2500m.
It is a family The Dennis Brothers of Southland have cultivated over generations, with the grand dam the dual Group One winner The Jewel.
After failing to meet his $150,000 reserve when offered at Karaka as a yearling, The Chosen One was syndicated by the Dennis family, who retain a 40 percent interest, at the behest of Milan Park’s Tony Rider, who also has a share.
The syndicate includes Janine Dunlop, who regularly prepares the Dennis brothers horses for the National Yearling Sales at Karaka under her Phoenix Park banner.
The Dennis Brothers’ link to the Baker stable extend over the decades, with the master trainer having prepared The Chosen One’s distant relative The Phantom to win the Gr.1 Underwood Stakes and finish second in the 1990 Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The Chosen One has now won seven races from 37 starts with a further eight placings and over $2.3 million in prizemoney.