Another Group One Success For Baker



Cambridge trainer Murray Baker (pictured) was on hand at Caulfield yesterday to celebrate his 22nd Group One success.

Baker achieved the milestone with Lion Tamer, the lightly tried son of Storming Home who also credited his with his 21st Group One win in the VRC Derby at Flemington last November. Lion Tamer was having just his second start since that 2500-metre triumph and he burst into joint Melbourne Cup favouritism with December Draw, winner of the Group III Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield yesterday, when staging an impressive display to take the Group I Hyland Underwood Stakes (1800m).

It was success for the old firm of Baker and Michael Rodd as Lion Tamer charged home to score by one and a quarter lengths from the Adelaide mare Southern Speed. It was Baker who put Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Rodd on the Group One road when he provided the top hoop with his first two Group One wins, aboard Prized Gem in the 2002 Brisbane Cup and Kelt Capital Stakes.

Rodd was filling in for Hugh Bowman, Lion Tamer’s VRC Derby winning rider who had commitments in Sydney yesterday, including Streama, who won the Group II Tea Rose Stakes.

It was Baker’s second win in the Underwood Stakes and it came 21 years after he won the race with the grand galloper The Phantom and he was pleasantly surprised by the manner of the victory. “We’ve always thought he was a good horse, but he missed last autumn and VRC Derby winners have this thing about
them so you always wonder if they are going to come back,” said Baker after the race. “”I thought today he’s got to show something to be a candidate in the weight-for-age races.”

Lion Tamer’s sole leadup to the Underwood Stakes was in the Group I Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings last month when running on nicely for
fourth to Mufhasa, Jimmy Chioux and Fleur de Lune and that form was franked yesterday when Jimmy Chioux defeated Mufhasa in the Group I Windsor Park Plate.

Lion Tamer will start next in the Turnbull Stakes (wfa 2000m) at Flemington on October 2 and that outing will decide whether or not be contested  Australasia’s major weight-for-age event, the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

Lion Tamer’s main target is the Melbourne Cup. “His owner Phil Bayly is 88,” said Baker. “He ran second with (My) Blue Denim (in 1980) and he’s keen to get it.” Lion Tamer is a great grandson of (My) Blue Denim, whose 10 wins included three Group Ones (the Auckland  Cup, Tancred Stakes and Queen Elizabeth Randwick Stakes) when trained by Dave and Paul O’Sullivan.

Bayly also owns Harris Tweed, who ran fifth in last year’s Melbourne Cup after being runner-up to Descarado in the Caulfield Cup. Harris Tweed was
unplaced in yesterday’s Naturalism Stakes.

Lion Tamer has now raced 13 times for six wins and two placings and over $1.3 million in prizemoney.

Fresh back from his Melbourne trip, Baker was at Pukekohe today to cheer the talented stayer Mr Tipsy to a sound win in the Listed Westbury Stud Karaka
Classic (1600m). Ridden  by Opie Bosson, Mr Tipsy was having his first start since April and he proved too strong for his rivals, defeating Affairoftheheart and Toughasim in very testing conditions.

“I knew he was very well, but never in my wildest dream did I think he would win,” said Baker after the race. “He’s won three out of four (starts) on the
(heavy) tracks and he’s won here before.”

Mr Tipsy, a winner of nine races, holds a nomination for the Christchurch Casino NZ Cup (3200m) at Riccarton on November 12.