Baker's first Turf Club visit brings great success as Big Dance berth on cards
BY TOM BARBER | Daily Liberal 14 September 2023
Bjorn Baker knows he has a good one in Iknowastar and the gelding showed all his class to win the 2023 Dubbo City and Gilgandra Toyota Gold Cup.
Baker's gelding was way too good for the field on Sunday, winning by more than a length to take home $48,000 and book a spot in The Big Dance.
Speaking to Sky Thoroughbred Central after the race, the energetic trainer had a smile from ear to ear.
"He is just a winner, this time last year we were really struggling with him," he said.
"He put it together last week, I thought it was a super win. I've got to have a good look at the replay, the sun is pretty bright here but it is good to be here.
"He is just a really nice horse going forward."
Jumping out of barrier four, Iknowastar ($6) hugged the inside rail through the opening stages of the race to lead.
As the race went on, several challengers tried to put pressure on the gelding but failed to do so until the home straight.
With the field closing in with just a few hundred metres to go, jockey Rachel King managed to find another gear with the gelding as the pair kicked home to win in what is a track record.
In what was possibly his first visit to Dubbo, Baker was full of praise for King, the jockey who regularly rides the winner.
"She rides him beautifully, I'm not sure if this is her first time here at Dubbo as well so she's on the same plane today," she said.
"He is a really good horse with a good bunch of owners and they are thrilled. He is into The Big Dance and that's what counts."
Keith Dryden's Eastern Glow ($13) finished second ahead of Queenmaker ($4.60) and Hollywood Hero ($13), the latter being another of Baker's.
Hollywood Hero came from a wide barrier draw to pose some questions to the leaders and Baker said he may return out west in the next few weeks for another shot at qualifying for The Big Dance.
"It's a little bit hard without having a good look at it but we've got the Bathurst Cup in a couple of weeks," he said.
"It's another Big Dance qualifier so it's key to try to get them into the race, I'm just absolutely thrilled to get him (Iknowastar)."
Not with under two months until the $3 million race on November 7 at Royal Randwick, Baker confessed he hasn't got any plans just yet of what to do with Iknowastar.
"We will just get them home and ease up on them while having a good think about them," he said.
Earlier in the day, Dubbo trainer Brett Robb took out the Evergreen Turd Vincent Gordon Flying Handicap (1100m) with Rylan's Pick.
Robb combined with regular jockey Clayton Gallagher for the win, the latter also picked up the Greg Ryan Medal for most successful jockey on Dubbo Gold Cup day.