The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman training juggernaut steamrolled their way to a second National Trainers’ Premiership off the back of an outstanding season of feature race success.
After finishing runner-up to the Te Akau Racing team of Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards last year, following their inaugural title in 2014-15, the Baker-Forsman combination ramped up their efforts this year as they claimed a remarkable 19 black-type succeses among their haul of 107 wins.
Those 107 wins netted $2.92million in prizemoney and were achieved at a remarkable strike rate of 5.15 with 45 per cent of their 551 starters finishing in the first three placings.
Adding plenty of icing to an oversized cake were the five stakes wins achieved in Australia, including the Australian Derby and Oaks double with Jon Snow and Bonneval.
Asked to reflect on his year’s work, Murray Baker was quick to point out that it is a continuation of the hard work achieved by the stable over an extended period.
“We’ve certainly had a great year, but I think it really just continues on from the level we have been at for the past four or five years,” he said.
“I think this is the most number of black-type wins we have achieved with the 24 across New Zealand and Australia. Last season we probably won more prizemoney thanks to wins like the Caulfield Cup with Mongolian Khan and the Emirates Stakes with Turn Me Loose.
“Before that we did well with Dundeel and the like so we really have been building to the stage we are at now for a while.”
Baker has plenty of praise for the team involved at the stable, including his training partner Andrew Forsman.
“Andrew is a huge asset to the stable with his knowledge and skills,” he said.
“We have a staff of twenty something who do an outstanding job and really put in the hard yards. Without that we certainly wouldn’t be in the position we are now.”
Given the success the team achieved throughout the season, Baker finds it hard to single out any one achievement to sit at the top of the pile for the year.
“Our job is to win races, especially the stakes races, so on that score I think we did pretty well,” he said.
“We managed to get success across the board with a mix of older and younger horses although it was our three-year-olds that probably got the most attention as a group.
“Jon Snow, Bonneval, Saracino and Eleonora all did well in Australia while Honey Rider and Nicoletta were also very good back home here.
“Older horses like Lizzie L’Amour, Saint Emilion, Coldplay, Charmont and Mime all won feature races so I can’t really say that I can single out one win or horse from what was a very, very good group for us.”
Ominously, Baker sounded a warning for his training rivals as heads turn to the start of the new season that kicks off this week.
“One area where we didn’t really feature was in the two-year-old ranks, however that wasn’t due to a lack of talent,” he said.
“We didn’t start very many of our two-year-olds as they are predominantly staying types who will be all the better for having the time we have given them to date.
“We have some cracking three-year-olds to look forward to and I think we certainly have the firepower to make our mark again this year.
“We also have a few horses we didn’t see the best of last year for numerous reasons who we expect to be back in form this year. One of those is Luna Rossa, who suffered a float injury that affected her three-year-old campaign.
“She’s back in work and I think she could really measure up this time in after doing so well as a two-year-old.” – NZ Racing Desk