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02/01/02 Brilliant Baster Grabs Christmas Sprint Double
r3sbaster.jpg (14275 bytes)Leading Melbourne jockey Stephen Baster completed the big Christmas sprinting double when he scored a surprise win aboard Let's Planet in yesterday's $151,000 Standish Handicap at Flemington.

Baster took the first of the feature double at Caulfield on Boxing Day aboard the Mick Price trained Intelligent Star, but yesterday he denied Price the double when he comfortably held out the gutsy Chattanooga.

Connections of the winning galloper were praise for Baster's ride, which seen the talented hoop have the gelding in the ruck before bursting clear to establish a winning break.

"It was really Baster at his best. He was able to give him (Let's Planet) a good run during the race and that went a long way to winning it," stable foreman Nigel Sutcliffe said.

With trainer Michael Moroney in New Zealand for the huge summer carnival at Ellerslie, Sutcliffe was left in charge to saddle up the underrated gelding. After the race he suggested the winner could be bound for a trip over the Tasman.

"We could send him over to New Zealand for a race like the Group One Telegraph Handicap at Trentham," Sutcliffe said.

"He ran in the race last year and finished unplaced, but he is a much better horse this year. A race like the Telegraph should suit him," he added.

A recent stakesmoney increase in South Australia could see that state snare the sprinter over the Adelaide Cup Carnival.

"Futher down the track you would think he would be suited in a race like the Goodwood (Handicap) in Adelaide," Sutcliffe added.

A beaming Baster said after the race the gelding must have been brought into calculations for the race after his last start effort, when fifth to Intelligent Star in the Christmas Stakes at Caulfield.

"His effort at Caulfield was very good. He didn't have the best of luck there and I thought he was a good chance today," Baster said moments after unsaddling.

Baster was full of praise for the effort of Let's Planet over the concluding stages of the 1200 metre race.

"One of the most pleasing aspects of the win was the way he finished the race off. He was really strong to the line," he said.

"We got a lovely run just in behind the pace and the split came at about the 500 metre mark which turned out perfect," Baster concluded.

Chattanooga the last start winner of the listed Kevin Heffernan Stakes at Sandown on November 11, rattled home over the final 200 metres to grab second place just ahead of Generalissimo.

Generalissimo looked as though he was going to swamp the entire field when he ranged up on the outside with about 400 metres to run but his quick surge couldn't be sustained he was eventually passed in the final few strides by Chattanooga.

The race favourite Prince Rubiton ($2-$2.60-$2.35) was handy to the leaders toward the centre of the track during the race but was unable to finish the race off as well as hoped for the favourite's backers. He ended up dead heating with another well backed runner Bomber Bill for sixth.

Nash Rawiller, who was riding the Brian Mayfield-Smith trained galloper, told connections the son of Rubiton failed to handle the conditions.

Persistent rain had fallen on the Flemington track for the preceeding hour creating when some riders described as a slippery surface.

PIC - Quentin Lang

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