Home' Breeding and Racing : Issue 114 February - March 2014 Contents FOR DAILY INDUSTRY NEWS UPDATES VISIT WWW.BREEDINGRACING.COM 27
n less than three years Bjorn Baker has
established himself amongst the leading
ranks of Australia’s most competitive
training arena – Sydney racing. Cassandra
The affable Baker sits sixth at the time of
writing on the New South Wales Trainers’
Premiership with 40 wins, of which 13 were at
metropolitan level. Think Waller, Waterhouse,
Snowden... now add Baker.
The son of Champion New Zealand trainer
Murray Baker has enjoyed a whirlwind start
to the year, achieving his biggest payday when
Unencumbered burst to victory in January’s
Gold Coast $2m Magic Millions 2YO Classic.
After a short break the Testa Rossa colt
returned to Baker’s Warwick Farm stables with
a Golden Slipper path ahead. “I couldn’t be
happier. He looks fantastic,” Baker enthuses
about the colt with five wins already and a
third from six career starts behind him.
The financial risk of purchasing
Unencumbered (Testa Rossa-Blizzardly) for
$70,000 at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast
Yearling Sale was assisted by Baker’s success
with another of Testa Rossa’s progeny, Twilight
Royale, last year’s victor of the Gr2 VRC Sire’s
Produce Stakes. “One good horse has led to
another,” Baker reveals.
With two good horses by the same stallion,
Baker has a soft spot for Testa Rossa but this
isn’t the only reason why. Baker attended his
first Magic Millions in 1999 and with not a lot
of money at the time, invested an $80 wager
on the colt who would win the Magic Millions
2YO by over four lengths.
The journey of Bjorn Baker has not been
the most conventional for the son of a leading
trainer. He completed a degree in Pharmacy
at the University of Otago. By his own
admission he chose pharmacy over veterinary
science as the veterinary school was located in
Palmerston North. “All I wanted to do was get
away from Palmerston North,” Baker quips.
He spent eight years working in the
pharmacy field including a three and a half
year stint in Sydney in his early 20s before
returning to the family business and his
Baker completed career-shaping stretches
with esteemed trainers John Oxx in Ireland
and Christophe Clement in the USA. These
experiences enabled him to learn the many
different ways to train a horse.
“ They don’t get carried away and are
exceptionally hard working and dedicated,”
Baker says of Oxx and Clement.
Bjorn Baker commenced a training
partnership with his father in New Zealand
in the 2008/2009 racing season. The highly
successful partnership saw Bjorn travel
to Sydney and Melbourne with Gr1 VRC
Derby and Underwood Stakes winner Lion
Tamer. Hoping to set up a base in Australia
off the back of a horse on a Melbourne Cup
campaign, Baker, in a now or never mindset,
initially wanted to operate as a training
partnership with Murray. His father disagreed.
“If you go, you go on your own. It’s the best
thing he did for me,” Bjorn recalls of the bloke
who’s still his best mate, and an enormous
role model as the trainer of brilliant colt It’s a
Baker, who had first planned to set up
operations at Randwick, is clearly very content
this did not eventuate and is grateful to have
been given an opportunity by the ATC. “The
Warwick Farm training complex as a whole is
the best in Australia for horses,” Baker tells.
With 55 horses in work and a capacity
for 64, Baker is well and truly settled and
entrenched in Sydney racing. In a short time
he has been able to achieve success on the
track with two-year-olds (Unencumbered,
Fuerza, Twilight Royale), sprinters (Zaratone),
and stayers (Cantonese). This diversity of
success has not gone unnoticed by owners
with most major syndicators placing horses
with the trainer.
In New Zealand, it was something they were
able to do well with the Baker partnership
having two Champion two-year-olds in Fully
Fledged and The Heckler. Setting up in Sydney,
Baker realised the importance of getting early
results on the board with both two-year-olds
and horses across all spectrums.
“It was something I had to focus on, hitting
all bases. You look at Sydney racing, there’s
always a staying race, a couple of three-year-old
events and a two-year-old race. You can’t have
all the same sort of horses,” Baker comments.
Baker has been able to hit those bases backed
by a good team. Experienced head foreman
Jason Patrick has been with him since the
start of Bjorn Baker Racing, and racing and
bloodstock Manager, James Clarke, is also very
hands on and attends the sales.
After such remarkable results in a short time,
there’s no denying Baker has an eye for a horse,
a skill he sums up in one word: athleticism. “It
has to be some sort of athlete.”
Baker places great emphasis on
communication in his enterprise, which has
endeared him to new owners. “We have an
open stable, owners are welcome to come and
visit their horses. I tell the truth how I see it.
We’re not always right but hopefully most of
the time we are,” Baker notes.
Results suggest that’s the case.
Bjorn Baker celebrates
now add Baker.”
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