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By Taron Clarke | Sunday, October 31, 2010

Flemington, October 30, 2010.
Track - Slow 6. Rail - True. Penetrometer 4.58.
Victoria Derby (Group 1) 3YO SW – 2500m.
Time: 2-46.43. 600m Sectional: 35.96. (Carrying 55.5kg).
1 Lion Tamer; 2 Praecido; 3 Retrieve.
Margins: 6.5L x 0.2L.

The New Zealand father and son training partnership of Murray and Bjorn Baker continued their successful Spring Carnival when landing a resounding win with Lion Tamer in the $1.5 million VRC Derby over 2500 metres at Flemington on Saturday.

Partnered by leading Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman, Lion Tamer spaced his fellow Derby contenders to win by an ever widening six and a half lengths.

The win brought up Bowman’s first Derby win and can now boast a victory in both the VRC Derby and Oaks after an easy victory by Samantha Miss in the 2008 Oaks.

After riding the colt to victory in his first Australian appearance in early September in the Listed Ming Dynasty, Bowman was only reassociated with the kiwi galloper last weekend for their second placing in the AAMI Vase at Moonee Valley.

Jumping from a wide barrier, Bowman sent the son of Storming Home forward and the pair were the widest runners passing the post and going out of the straight on the first occasion.

Settling down Almindoro crossed down to the fence to lead by a length and a half over Lion Tamer and on his inside was the outsider Ulundi.

Favourite for the event was the AAMI Vase winner Rekindled Interest, for jockey Dwayne Dunn.

The son of Redoute’s Choice found a beautiful spot in fifth, one off the fence, five lengths off the leader.
The field of staying three-year-olds raced down the river side of the track and the tempo was moderate.

Perfect Pecs was the tail ender in the affair and was some sixteen lengths from the leader as the field moved through the murky conditions passing the 1400 metre pole.

In torrential rain the Derby field commenced the turn for home inside the 600 metre mark and under jockey Bowman Lion Tamer surged to a clear lead by a length over early leader Almindoro and Ulundi.

Dwayne Dunn brought the favourite Rekindled Interest out four wide in the early part of the straight to come with their run.

Peter Snowden’s favoured runner, Retrieve, had been given a wonderful run in transit by Kerrin McEvoy and the pair were making ground through the tiring runners as the field balanced up in the running.

Beyond the 400 metre marker Lion Tamer let down wonderfully in the going for Bowman and the duo cleared out by three lengths to Retrieve, Rekindled Interest and Digital Fortress.

Skipping through the ground like a half mile sprinter, Lion Tamer went further and further in front of the field and 250 metres from home the event was well and truly over.

Bowman gave the kiwi galloper a few flicks with the whip and Lion Tamer went further in front to be six lengths in front of Retrieve and Digital Fortress who were battling it out for the minor placing’s.

Kept going by Bowman, Lion Tamer was like a runaway train. The Sydney based rider stood high in the irons 30 metres from home and gave the rain soaked crowd an emphatic salute which later cost him $1000 in the steward’s room.

Six and a half lengths was the winning margin as Lion Tamer roared to a comprehensive victory over his fellow three-year-olds.

David Payne trained Praecido rattled home to snatch second place from Retrieve, but all honours were with the winner Lion Tamer.

The Baker’s claimed their first VRC Derby win and it may be the start of a big Flemington Carnival, with Harris Tweed going into the Melbourne Cup on the back of an excellent second placing behind Descarado in the Caulfield Cup.

The stayer will appreciate the rain soaked Flemington surface come Tuesday afternoon.

Co-trainer Murray Baker: “It’s a huge thrill.

“It’s a race that I’ve wanted to win. I had a horse here about twenty years ago, McRobert. He ran sixth. It was a terrific field that year and the five horses in front of him all became Group 1 winners. So it’s a pretty tough.

“We just didn’t know how this horse would handle this track. He is out of a Generous mare and he is stoutly bred on the dam side. Her grandmother was Blue Denim, who ran second in a Melbourne Cup and was a multiple Group 1 winner in Australia, so we thought he had a good show.

“We put the blinkers on. He got a bit colty in Sydney. I don’t think his mind was on the job. We got him down here to Melbourne. We put a tongue-tie on him and put blinkers on him and got him focussed, but he is not much of a worker on the track … in fact he has never won a gallop yet … so you never know where you are with him.

“He won a Listed mile race back at Ellerslie back in May from a long way back. He came from last. We thought then we’ve got a horse that might have something. His sire Storming Home was a top class horse. It won four Group 1’s.

“I’ve been coming here a long time trying to win these races. They gave me this one for good attendance.”

Co-trainer Bjorn Baker “It's just a super thrill!

“I remember asking my father as a child, I said ‘what race do you want to win the most?’ He said the ‘VRC Derby’ … so, it's very special to come here and win that.

“We've got a few people to thank. Russell Cameron where we're staying. He's looked after us magically.

“Emily Holmes has looked after both him and Harris Tweed. She's done an outstanding job. All the staff back home. They've done a super job, and we've had a winner back there today!

“It's been super. We've got a great support team when we come over and everyone looks after us so well. It's great to be involved in a day like today.

“I was standing next to Emily and I said, ‘he's travelling too well, this guy's travelling too well' and we were just a bit worried that he might just feel it the last 200, but he got to 250 and kicked again, I thought ‘that's not bad'.

“Hughie Bowman is a champion. We just love saddling him. He's a champion bloke too.

“He's one of our type of guys. He's down to earth and likes a bit of fun … great fun.

“How about Phil Bayly (the breeder). He's got this horse and then Harris Tweed going into the Melbourne Cup.

“He doesn't breed from many mares. That's just unbelievable what he's done. He's come over here. He's competing with the big boys in Aussie. He's won the Derby and got on in the Cup.

“We just hope it keeps raining until Tuesday.”

Jockey Hugh Bowman: “I was pretty confident going into the race … particularly when the rain came because I knew he would go through it.

“I couldn’t hold him slow enough. At the 800 he just wanted to go. I said, just wait boy … just wait … we’ve got plenty of time.

“At the 600 I was just breaking his jaw trying to hold him and I thought we'd had it pretty easy and I knew he'd stick so I let him go.

“In the end he said, I’m going. I said, alright. I just couldn't believe it when I looked back and saw how far in front I was! I couldn't believe it when I put five lengths on them.

“The blinkers really switched him on last start. I couldn't believe how well I got him across and he settled much better today with the blinkers having run in them last week.

"He settled well. The pace was run to suit and the conditions … well when it rained it made me a bit more confident.

“I can't say enough for the Bakers … what a wonderful job they do. They are a great training combination Murray and Bjorn Baker. I ran second for them in the AJC Derby on Harris Tweed. It’s great to go one better.

“I rode Harris Tweed as a three-year-old for them and he did really well and they've taken him on and how he's a genuine Cups hope.

“This guy has just continued to improve this year and I'm sure we're going to hear more of him.

“I've won the two three-year-old classics down here now so maybe the Cup's next year.”

2nd – Craig Williams (Praecido): “He was great. Just took his time to settle down, but he just couldn't quite take us into the race to threaten the winner.”

3rd – Kerrin McEvoy (Retrieve): “Got into a nice spot and travelled well until the pressure came on and then he started to struggle and probably did not quite run the distance.”

4th – Blake Shinn (Digital Fortress): “Great run. Loomed up, but couldn't quicken on the heavy track.”

5th – Dwayne Dunn (Rekindled Interest): “Got a great run but the 2500 metres at the end of a preparation was probably too much. He'll sleep well tonight.”

6th – Steven King (Almindoro): “He had every chance.”

7th – Mark Zahra (Yulalona): “He was slowly away and I had to ride him quietly. Just never let down on the track.”

8th – Michael Rodd (Cosmonaut): “He's game, but he needs to be gelded.”

9th – Corey Brown (Shootoff): “Probably six months too early for him, but he will stay eventually.”

10th – Ben Melham (Ulundi): “Had a nice run, but he failed to see out the trip.”

11th – Dean Holland (Luckyi'mbarefoot): “He was dipping and diving and just didn't finish the race off.”

12th – Nash Rawiller (Kirinata): “He just didn't handle the track.”

13th – Craig Newitt (Perfect Pecs): “Didn't handle the track and he'll be better next time around.”

14th – Damien Oliver (Smokin' Joey): “He just didn't run the distance today.”

15th – Jim Cassidy (Tale Of Thunder): “Unfortunately he just wasn't up to it.”

16th – Steven Arnold (Kudakulari): “He didn't handle the ground.”

Winner (Lion Tamer): 13.00 steady.
Favourite (Rekindled Interest): 3.70 out to 4.20 into 3.80. Finished fifth.

After the running of Race 5 trainer Mr J Thompson advised that Tale Of Thunder would be ridden quieter today than at its last start and an announcement was made. Tale Of Thunder settled towards the rear of the field.

Perfect Pecs shifted out abruptly at the start and hampered Cosmonaut.

S King rider of Almindoro pleaded guilty to a charge of careless riding under the provisions of AR137a, the careless riding being that approaching 2200m he permitted his mount to shift in when insufficiently clear of Ulundi resulting in crowding to Ulundi and in turn caused crowding to Luckyi’mbarefoot on its inside resulting in Luckyi’mbarefoot having to be checked.

S King had his licence to ride in races suspended for a period to commence at midnight November 2 and to expire at midnight November 11, a total of nine race meetings (2 city, 7 country).

In assessing penalty Stewards took into account S King’s guilty plea and that the careless riding was in the mid-range category.

Leaving the home straight on the first occasion Digital Fortress (NZ) got its head up when being restrained off the heels of Praecido (NZ).

Near the 1100m Kirinata, which was pulling hard, improved to the inside of Rekindled Interest where there was insufficient room and had to be checked. This resulted in Praecido (NZ), which was following, being checked and dipping. This also caused Cosmonaut which was following also to be checked.

Then again passing the 1000m Kirinata commenced to pull quite hard resulting in Praecido (NZ) having to be checked to avoid its heels. Cosmonaut, which was following shifted out and hampered Tale Of Thunder.

Near the 700m Rekindled Interest shifted in and raced tight in against Retrieve, in doing so both horses made contact.

Passing the 600m Retrieve was disappointed for a clear run between Ulundi and Luckyi’mbarefoot and as a result had to be steadied.

Inside the final 200m Digital Fortress (NZ) shifted in under pressure inconveniencing Rekindled Interest near the 100m.

Praecido (NZ) lost its off-hind plate during the running of the race.

H Bowman rider of Lion Tamer (NZ) was fined the sum of $1000 for his celebratory gesture prior to the winning post.

M Zahra (Yulalona) reported that his mount was slow to begin and subsequently got further back than planned.

The track was downgraded from Slow 6 to Heavy 8 at 3.10pm after the running of this race.

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Photos: Taron Clarke
Photos: Taron Clarke
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