Former Cambridge trainer chasing Auckland Cup win

Bjorn Baker will be back in New Zealand next week in a bid to realise a Group One dream in the $500,000 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup at Ellerslie.

The former Cambridge trainer will saddle up Celtic Prince in the 3200-metre feature which his father, Murray, won in 1990 with Miss Stanima, ridden by Maree Lyndon. He will be attempting to win his first Group One race on his own account.

Baker has already had a great start to the year, winning the Magic Millions Classic last month with Unencumbered, and he has made a big impression since shifting to Warwick Farm in Sydney a couple of years ago.

Baker not only trains Celtic Prince, he also owns the son of O’Reilly. The New Zealand-bred stayer was purchased from Esker Lodge’s 2011 Ready to Run Sale draft at Karaka for $130,000.

Celtic Prince has won five of his 19 starts, including three of his last five outings, and goes into the Auckland Cup with a last-start second over 2400 metres at Randwick on February 8.

James McDonald rode Celtic Prince in that last-start placing and convinced him to press ahead with the Auckland Cup goal.

Celtic Prince is booked to fly out of Sydney on Saturday and will be ridden at Ellerslie by Sydney jockey Brenton Avdulla, who has won three races on the four-year-old.