Cambridge shares in Magic Millions celebration

When former Cambridge trainer Bjorn Baker was on track to witness his first running of the Magic Millions Classic little did he know it would have such significance on his career.

The son and former training partner of Murray Baker celebrated his biggest win since shifting to Sydney a couple of years ago when Unencumbered lived up to his favouritism with a decisive performance to beat Oakleigh Girl in the A$2 million Jeep Magic Millions 2YO Classic.

“I was here 15 years ago and sat up in the public stand and watched Testa Rossa win,” recalled Baker. “Now I’ve had my first crack at a Magic Millions and won it with a son of Testa Rossa.”

Baker says he scraped together $80 to back Testa Rossa that day and since then he has become one the sire’s most ardent fans with the two best horses in his Sydney stable being by the great racehorse.

Twilight Royale, a three-year-old filly by Testa Rossa, will pick up a bonus of A$2.5 million if she can complete a Sydney Triple Crown by winning the Scone Guineas in May.

Unencumbered earned favouritism through four wins and a third from five starts and Nathan Berry maintained an unbeaten record on the exciting colt with a perfect ride.

Berry settled Unencumbered three back on the fence and angled him one off the rails nearing the home turn. He then switched him out further to gain a dream run between horses and the colt unleashed an irresistible finish to surge away to a popular win.

“I’m not fit enough to play a rugby game,” said an out-of-breath Baker when interviewed straight after the race.

“He’s a super horse. He’s got attitude, attitude, attitude. He’s the best of any horse I’ve trained. He’s fantastic.”

Baker now plans to give Unencumbered a deserved rest before being prepared for the Gr. 1 Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill in April.

Sharing the excitement of Unencumbered’s win today was Berry, who has always been in the shadow of his twin brother, Tommy.

Tommy Berry has won the Magic Millions Classic on two occasions and Nathan was overwhelmed to enjoy the same thrill with his first win in the Queensland feature. He rode in the saddle short of the winning post saluting in grand style.

Nathan told the media he had trouble sleeping in the lead-up to the race.

“I had only a total of five hours sleep on Thursday and Friday nights,” he said. “I was tossing and turning and I wish I had never done the form. Every horse in the field was going through my head.”

Berry (21) is set to embark on a four-month stint in Singapore in March, but he is adamant he will return to ride Unencumbered wherever he starts. “Nathan is like the horse, he just gets better and better,” said Baker.

James McDonald, another former Cambridge horseman, picked up the Magic Millions Guineas today when winning on the Gai Waterhouse-trained Sweet Idea.