Cantonese and Havana Rey are not the type of thoroughbreds expected to make racing’s elite stage but it is of little concern to those paying the bills.
These two thoroughbreds are housed in the Warwick Farm stable of Bjorn Baker. The son of leading New Zealand horseman Murray Baker and the horses are players at Rosehill on Saturday.
As a training combination the Bakers won an Australian Derby at Randwick and the Victoria Derby at Flemington. The father has a host of other feature race victories on both sides of the Tasman while the son decided to set-up an operation in Sydney’s outer west some 15 months ago.
“Cantonese has been an absolute great horse to us and so has Havana Rey,” Bjorn Baker said on Friday.
“Cantonese is an absolute gentleman to deal with at home. He can over race a bit in a race but that’s about it.
“He has been good to me, better than I envisaged.”
Baker purchased Cantonese from the massive racing and breeding operation of Gerry Harvey.
“I bought him for clients of mine and the price was right,” Baker said.
“That and the fact I thought he could win a race at the provincials. He has now won five from eight, ran a second and a fourth.”
Baker has had Havana Rey from day one.
“Another great horse,” Baker said.
“I got him as an unraced horse and he has won four races in town. One on a Friday night at Canterbury and three on a Saturday.”
Cantonese and Havana Rey are in the middle legs of the TAB Quaddie at Rosehill. Cantonese goes round in the Christmas Cup and looking for an edge Baker has booked Jim Cassidy to replace leading apprentice Jenny Duggan in the non-claiming feature.
“We all know Jimmy,” Baker said.
“A champion jockey, he rode my first city winner over here and it just happened to be Havana Rey.
“Cantonese has always been a nice type of horse and I’ve been easy between runs with him. He is fit and seems to be enjoying it.”
A first-up winner last time in work Havana Rey resumes in the a Benchmark 90 event and Glyn Schofield is on board.
“The horse has had two good barrier trials leading into this,” Baker said. “I couldn’t be happier with how the horse is going and I expect him to run well again.”
For Baker the move to Warwick Farm has been all good. There are 30 horses in the stable and a number of juveniles including Fuerza which won a barrier trial on Friday.
Asked how many two-year-olds he had on the books Baker replied “not enough” and added “you quote me on that”.
By Craig Young