MANY years have passed since Bjorn Baker called Bathurst home, but the pharmacist turned leading trainer still has a strong link to Tyers Park.
On Friday afternoon the Warwick Farm trainer extended an impressive winning streak at the home of Bathurst Thoroughbred Racing to seven races in a row.
He won the last five races on the program at the October 27 Tyers Park meeting, before members of his stable took out the first two on Friday afternoon.
His first win on Friday came via a three-year-old filly called Judge Judi, the astute trainer tipping she would prevail even before her $1.70 favouritism was confirmed.
“Narrowly beaten on debut, this daughter of Star Witness is learning what it is all about and can win here,” Baker tweeted.
Though the field for the Thrifty Car and Truck Rental Fillies and Mares Plate (1,110 metres) numbered just four, Judge Judi’s rivals included Rugosa Rose ($2.60) from the powerhouse Randwick team of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.
In the end it came down to that pair, who staged an entertaining battle to the line.
Venezia had won the start and jumped out to a 1½ lengths lead over Rugosa Rose, while Judge Judi was settled a further two lengths back by jockey Greg Ryan.
With 300m to run Rugosa Rose tackled the early leader, but Ryan had Judge Judi on the charge on her outside.
Baker’s favourite went on to win by just under half a length, the victory coming after she placed second on debut at Nowra.
Part-owner John Faulkner was track side to watch and was naturally delighted.
“It was very exciting. She’s still got a lot to learn and she’s still very green,” he said.
“But it is nice to build up her confidence and hopefully there’s bigger and better things in the future.”
While Baker has enjoyed plenty of wins at Bathurst, Judge Judi’s success was a first for Faulkner, who is only new to ownership.
“I’ve always loved the races and loved other horses. This was just an opportunity to get in with a couple of friends. It’s the first one I’ve owned and first win, so it’s very, very exciting,” he said.
“But I was pretty confident today given the other runs she’s had, down the straight she normally finishes pretty well and she’s got some fight in her.
“We just want to work her through the grades and see how she pulls up after this. As the jockey [Ryan] said, she’s still got a lot to learn, she’s very flighty.”
After Judge Judi’s win, Baker’s winning streak continued in the second thanks to Tony’s Reward ($1.20 favourite). The run finally came to an end when Magic Missile was beaten in the third.