ADDICTIVE Nature is ready to live up to the hype and end a jinx on three-year-old colts that stretches nearly three decades in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer Bjorn Baker has always held Addictive Nature in high regard but his boom young galloper has been beaten as favourite in three of his last four starts.
But Baker maintains punters should keep the faith, citing some valid reasons for Addictive Nature's first-up third to Trapeze Artist in the Expressway Stakes two weeks ago.
"He is definitely a top of the ground horse, 1400m suits and he is a lot fitter now so all those points are in his favour this time,'' Baker said.
"In the Expressway, he was 'pigeonholed' on the inside and there was a bit of cut in the surface (soft 5) but I still felt he ran a really good race.
"I wasn't disappointed with his Rosehill run because he had those things against him.
"If he runs up to that effort, and with the improvement he has taken from the run, he must be a good chance.''
In a Winx-less Apollo Stakes, Addictive Nature, the only three-year-old in the race, has been rated the $3.80 favourite by TAB Fixed Odds price assessors. This is despite the fact no three-year-old colt has won the weight-for-age sprint since Key Dancer in 1990. The only Apollo winner from the age group this century was the filly, Ha Ha, in 2002.
Most three-year-olds tend to be kept for the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes, run over 1400m at Rosehill Gardens next Saturday, and with a top quality field including Kementari, Trapeze Artist and Ace High expected to contest that race, Baker deliberately chose to run against the older horses on Saturday.
"The Hobartville is going to be a very good race and I felt it might be a touch tougher to win than the Apollo Stakes,'' Baker said.
"There is a very good crop of three-year-olds this season.
"It reminds me of 2013 when we had It's A Dundeel run in the Hobartville and he ran fourth to Pierro, Rebel Dane and Proisir. It's A Dundeel then went on to win the Triple Crown (Randwick Guineas, Rosehill Guineas and ATC Australian Derby) at his next three starts.''
Baker stopped short of confirming Addictive Nature a definite starter in the Group 1 $1m Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Royal Randwick on March 10 even if he wins the Apollo.
"We will take it one race at a time, I just want to get through the Apollo Stakes and then we can look at all our options,'' Baker said.
Addictive Nature's task of winning the Apollo Stakes was made a little easier with confirmation from trainer Mark Newnham that talented Lanciato would not contest the race.
Lanciato was a brilliant winner of the Carrington Stakes first-up and Newnham was flirting with the idea of running in the Apollo Stakes before deciding to stick with his original plan and wait for the Newcastle Newmarket on March 9.
"I've released Rachel (King) to ride Global Glamour because I didn't want to hold her to my horse,'' Newnham said.
"I looked at the Apollo but I didn't think there was any upside to running Lanciato. If he ran really well then he pays the penalty when he goes back to the handicaps.
"He races best when he is down in the weights.
"I'll give Lanciato a trial on February 26 and then go to the Newcastle Newmarket and hopefully the Doncaster Mile. The concern I have with the Doncaster is the likely track conditions as it tends to rain every autumn and Lanciato needs it dry.
"If we do get a wet autumn again I can give him a rest and wait for the Epsom Handicap in the spring. I do think there is a good handicap in this horse and it is just a matter of managing him to give him the best opportunity.''
Addictive Nature is Baker's only runner at Randwick while the stable only has the sole representative at the Canterbury Park meeting on Friday night - the in-form Allez Bien in the TAB Handicap (1900m). "She has won her last two starts at 1600m and I'm confident she will run the extra distance,'' Baker said. "She is bred to stay.''
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