Bjorn Baker arrived at Warwick Farm from Cambridge back at the start of the season to start training on his own account after working with his famous father Murray back home, and with patience he has started to reap the rewards of Australian racing.
It was a long way from winning the Group 1 Victoria Derby at Flemington with Murray and Lion Tamer (NZ), but there was a similarity on Saturday at Warwick Farm with rain falling in solid fashion as it was that day in 2010 at Flemington.
The stake was also slightly different with the Big Sports Breakfast Bowl Bm 80 (1400m) worth $70,000 instead of the $1.5m for the Derby. However, for Baker it was in all likely- hood more rewarding as when Havana Rey crossed the line to win it registered his first metropolitan winner in Australia since establishing his stable.
Apprentice Sam Clipperton had taken over the riding duties when Josh Adams was unable to attend the meeting due to illness and his 2kg claim took Havana Rey’s weight to 52kg, and on a track that was rapidly being downgraded after the rain arrived, it certainly assisted the cause.
Clipperton had Havana Rey always close to the lead as they went to the turn for the straight, and then when they straightened he sent Havana Rey forward to skip away from the field. The break won the race as although Flying Zero (54kg) and Brenton Avdulla came out from the field to chase hard, Havana Rey had a good enough margin to secure the win with the margin a neck.
Skip Town (52.5kg) (Gonski) and apprentice Blake Spriggs were third, the margin 3 1/2L. The time was 1.23.37 on the Dead 4 track, with the final 600m in 35.87. Havana Rey paid $39.80 to rock punters on NSW TAB.
“He is a horse who as he gets older he is going to get better. He has matured and he is going the right way to hold on mentally and physically,” said Baker.
“I gave him a pretty good chance today. I thought his trial was pretty good and he is in super order. His work this week has been outstanding. It was a great ride.
“It was a good win and I am very grateful for the support that the owners have given me. This is one of the first horses that arrived in my stable after I arrived over here so it makes it very special.
“I have about 15 horses in work and definitely looking for more. I could not be happier here. I think that coming from New Zealand that Australia is really the land of opportunity and I have been very blessed and well supported so I am very grateful for that,” he said.
Havana Rey is a three-year-old gelding by King Cugat out of the King Of Kings mare Dydeedoe and this was his third win from eight starts. With two second places he has earned stakes of $94,330 plus a $20,000 BOBS bonus for Saturday’s win for owners C J Dawson, Miss J L Cracknell, P M Ryan and D P Croke.
Apprentice Sam Clipperton might have been wet but he was happy to bring Havana Rey back a winner, picture Sportpix.com.au