Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have taken out their third straight National Trainers Premiership title and their fourth in the past five years as the current racing season comes to its conclusion.
The duo sits on 112 wins with just one raceday left in the season, 14 victories clear of their nearest rival, Matamata’s Jamie Richards.
Whilst their latest tally is well shy of the record 142 wins they put on the board in 2017/18, amongst this season’s achievements is a record 25 wins at black-type level. It is that figure that senior partner Murray Baker is most proud of.
“We have had a good year but those 25 stakes wins is pretty hard to beat as our season highlight,” Baker said.
“We probably didn’t fire as well as we might have liked in Australia, but on the home front we managed to take out plenty of good races with both the younger members of the team as well as some of those older horses that have served us so well.”
Baker nominates the success of hardy mare Nicoletta in the Gr.1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha and the dual Group One wins of talented three-year-old Madison County as his most memorable performances of the season.
“Nicoletta getting her Group One at Te Aroha was very very satisfying as she has been such an honest mare and thoroughly deserved to get a win at the highest level,” he said.
“She had run third in the race the year before so to come back and win was a brilliant result.
“Madison County was also pretty special as he only had nine starts as a three-year-old and won over $1million.
“He got two Group Ones but was very unlucky in several of his races so his record could have been even better.”
Not one to dwell on past glory, Baker is already looking ahead to the new season where a major aim is to improve on the 21 Group One wins he has registered in Australia.
“We have had good success in Australia over the years although we didn’t really fire there last season,” he said.
“I think we have some really nice young horses coming through and with some luck we might just be able to improve our record over there again.”
With co-trainer Andrew Forsman enjoying a family holiday in Sweden at present, Baker will be front and centre at Monday’s Te Rapa trials where the stable will produce several of their leading spring candidates for the first time in their current preparations.
Amongst them will be Gr.1 VRC Derby (2500m) prospect Quick Thinker who took out the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) at his last start before a short break in the spelling paddock.
“Quick Thinker is a rising three-year-old that we think has plenty of untapped potential,” Baker said.
“He appeals as a real staying type so we are looking at setting him for the VRC Derby if he comes up like we think he can.
“He will have a nice quiet hit-out over 900m at Te Rapa for his first outing this time in.
“Cutadeel, who is nominated for some of the Hastings Spring Carnival features and The Chosen One are another pair who we think can step up in grade this season, that will be at Te Rapa on Monday.
“The Chosen One and Madison County are both progressing nicely and are being targeted at some of the Melbourne features. They will most likely go straight to Australia without having a lead-up run over here.”
Baker also nominated rising three-year-old Holy Mongolemperor as one to watch from the stable as he is set for the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November while exciting filly Birdsong has the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at the same carnival as her major assignment. – NZ Racing Desk