Ajax Stakes test for in-form Baker gelding

A defeat in the Dubbo Cup is being credited for the rich vein of form Amor Victorious finds himself in this campaign as the gelding looks to take his winning streak into black-type company.

The four-year-old will line up in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill after opening his preparation with a brace of victories in Saturday benchmark grade.

It is a long way from where Amor Victorious rounded out his previous preparation when midfield behind Iknowastar in the Dubbo Cup, an experience trainer Bjorn Baker believes has seasoned him for the autumn.

“In the Dubbo Cup, Iknowastar broke the track record that day and Amor Victorious was up on speed, so maybe that has given him a bit more toughness,” Baker said.

“It works in roundabout ways sometimes, racing.

“That run was to try to get him into the Big Dance, but I think he has kicked on since then.”

Amor Victorious will carry the 53kg limit in the Ajax Stakes, six kilos less than topweight and defending titleholder Cepheus.

Rachel King has the ride from barrier seven and Baker believes Saturday’s race presents an ideal opportunity to test Amor Victorious’ autumn credentials.

“It was a really good win last time, he is down in the weights and has a pretty good gate,” Baker said.

“He will roll forward and put himself there. ”

Meanwhile, Victorian trainer Mick Price is using the Ajax Stakes as an autumn starting point for stayer Hezashocker, who is set to remain in Sydney for the bulk of his campaign.

The Group 1 placegetter finished fourth behind Dubai Honour in last year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and has again been nominated for that race.

Price expects Hezashocker to improve once he gets to his preferred distance range but says a desire to keep the gelding away from Caulfield has prompted the early Sydney trip.

“He’s a horse that, unusually, hates Caulfield,” Price said.

“I ran him three times at Caulfield last spring – I had to as the races were there – so unfortunately, if the races are at Caulfield, he’s not going.

“He gets 2400 metres, so we’ll kick him off up in Sydney on Saturday and he’ll run in some good races up there.”

The winner of the Ajax Stakes is exempt from a Doncaster Mile ballot.

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