By Glenn Davis
Trainer Barry Baldwin is confident the green shoots for The Candy Man’s spring campaign will sprout when the grey makes his comeback at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The Candy Man begins a spring campaign aimed at next month’s Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick when he resumes in the Open Handicap (1200m).
The six-year-old hasn’t raced since failing in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm in June which ended a winning sequence of seven races including a victory in the Group 3 Premier’s Cup at Eagle Farm two weeks earlier.
The Candy Man developed a cult-like following last campaign with his seven consecutive wins and will be ridden by regular jockey Michael Cahill despite his big weight of 60kgs.
Baldwin resisted the temptation to claim on the six-year-old but is pleased with The Candy Man’s progress since he returned to work nine weeks ago.
“This race will give us a good guide for the spring but we’re not expecting him to win first-up,” Baldwin said.
“I’ll be very happy if he can run a place as he’s got a long campaign ahead of him.”
Baldwin plans to send The Candy Man south after his Eagle Farm assignment for the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle on September 20.
“He’ll run next in The Cameron but The Bill Ritchie over 1400 metres at Randwick the next day is a back-up,” Baldwin said.
Either race will be his final dress rehearsal for the Epsom Handicap (1600m) on October 5.
The Candy Man has been fitted for his return with a barrier trial and jump out.
“He didn’t do much in either but he was heavily shod in both,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin has never won at the highest level interstate and is confident The Candy Man is up to the task ahead.
“I’ve got a good record in the (Group 1) Stradbroke winning it with La Montagna and I also had a second with Baggio, two fourths and one unplaced,” he said.
“Baggio would have won the Straddie in another stride when he was just beaten by All Our Mob.
“I’ve taken a few horses away many times but I’m yet to win a Group 1 in the south.
“I took Hell’s County, Baggio and La Montagna interstate and I’ve won up to Group 2 level but not a Group 1.”
Baldwin is hoping to extend The Candy Man’s Sydney campaign after the Epsom for the Group 2 Rosehill Cup (2000m) in November.
“If he gets that far I think the Rosehill Cup is the perfect race for him and hopefully we’ll get some rain,” he said.
The Candy Man is unbeaten in four starts on heavy tracks.
Racing Queensland webnews September 4