New Zealand’s decision to cease racing because of the coronavirus crisis has left Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker as the custodian of his family’s remaining horses.
Baker’s father is leading Kiwi horseman Murray Baker who, along with training partner Andrew Forsman, has closed his Cambridge operation in line with the country’s racing shutdown.
The only horses Baker and Forsman have left in work are the two they sent over for the autumn carnival, Sydney Cup aspirant The Chosen One and Quick Thinker who contests Saturday’s Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
The pair are stabled with Bjorn Baker at Warwick Farm and given the travel restrictions, he has been left in charge.
“He’s only got two in work and they’re both in my stable so they’re sure to improve,” Bjorn Baker said.
The Bakers have been in contact via telephone and it is clear the suddenly time-rich Murray will be finding himself at a loose end sooner rather than later.
“He is going to read a book, he’s got some blueberries to eat and then he doesn’t know,” Bjorn Baker said.
Baker has increased biosecurity measures at his stable as racing participants strive to keep the sport afloat.
Along with taking twice daily temperatures of all staff, they are adhering to the general guidelines of social distancing, hand washing and monitoring people for flu-like symptoms.
“We roll on until the whistle blows at the moment and everyone seems to be much the same,” Baker said.
Baker will have a runner of his own at Rosehill, saddling up Positive Peace for her first black-type test in the Group Two Emancipation Stakes (1500m).
The mare has been almost unbeatable in lesser grade this campaign, winning her past four starts, the latest on a heavy track at Rosehill by almost three lengths.
“She’s going great. We haven’t had to do a lot with her. She is rock-hard fit. She’s had the five runs this time in and her last win was super,” Baker said.
“I think she’s better on top of the ground but you can’t knock her current form with the cut out. Her last win, she didn’t look like getting beaten.
“It’s a big jump up in grade, there’s no doubt about that, against some very, very good mares. That’s going to be another question mark but we can’t fault the way she is going.”
A field of 14 will line up in the Emancipation including Coolmore Classic runner-up Miss Fabulass.