Babylon Berlin in search of return to winner’s circle

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  • March 03, 2023
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Quality sprinter Babylon Berlin has a gilt-edged opportunity for a soft kill in Saturday’s Gr.3 Haunui Farm Kings Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa.

The Ben Foote-trained five-year-old hasn’t won a race in more than a year, but boasts a string of minor placings, including finishing runner-up in her past three outings at Group One level.

The tenacious Babylon Berlin chased home Imperatriz in the BCD Group Sprint (1400m) last start, where she was taken on by the riderless Mustang Valley for much of the contest.

Back to a more preferred distance over 1200m, Babylon Berlin will carry just 54kgs under the set weights and penalties conditions and there are no horses the ilk of recent conquerors Levante and Imperatriz in Saturday’s seven-horse field.

“After the BCD Group Sprint she went to her normal spelling place and had a few days in the paddock with her head down. She has come back in and worked up super,” Foote said.

“It is a hard race to go past. We were going to go straight to Melbourne but at set weights and penalties we had to have a go.”

Safely through the Te Rapa assignment, the mare will be on a plane to Melbourne to contest the weight-for-age Gr.1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on March 24.

TAB bookmakers have marked the mare a dominant $1.40 favourite for Saturday’s contest and punters can be assured that Foote is keen to see Babylon Berlin put her best foot forward.

“At this stage she is booked to fly on the 15th,” Foote said.

“I would like to see her quite dominant to be honest to have my confidence levels up going over there. She seems to always set the race up for something else but I’d like to see her put them away for sure.”

The Cambridge horseman will also saddle the favourite in the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) in Sakura Girl.

A last-start runner-up to Prowess in the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa, Foote elected to bypass Wednesday’s Gr.2 Little Avondale Stud Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Awapuni and stay closer to home ahead of her final lead-up to the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 18.

“She’s had a trip away previously to the lower North Island and with all the road works along the way, my horse that went down yesterday (Jimmy Dean) was on the truck for nearly eight and a half hours. He got home about quarter to two this morning. It would have been too much too soon before the Oaks,” Foote said.

“My gut feeling is that she has improved a lot. I’m really looking forward to seeing how she runs on Saturday. It is not a must win, we just want to see her settle and hit the line. She is guaranteed a start in the Oaks.”

Like many fellow trainers, Foote was pleased to see outstanding filly Prowess not aimed towards the New Zealand Oaks.

“I was hoping Prowess wasn’t in it and that has been confirmed. I now feel were are a real winning chance,” he said.

“Sakura Girl has had the makings of an Oaks filly from day one and that is the reason we bought her. She is just a lovely filly.”

The stable will also be represented by High Choice and Ruach on the Te Rapa undercard and Foote believes they are both solid chances.

Meanwhile, Foote will be without a Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) runner with Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) winner Loosespender not amongst the late entries for the race.

The grey son of Turn Me Loose missed the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) with an elevated temperature and Foote has taken a patient approach.

“He just needed more time, he will be a decent horse going forward so just needed a bit of time in the paddock,” Foote said.

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