Renowned Kiwi trainer Murray Baker had to watch from a locked down New Zealand as his tough three year old stayer Quick Thinker won the 2020 Group 1 $1m Australian Derby (2400m) on Day One of The Championships at Randwick today.
Baker claimed his fifth win in the Australian Derby and his second with training partner Andrew Forsman and both men were unable to travel to Australia because of the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was left up to Baker’s son, Warwick Farm trainer Bjorn Baker, to put the finishing touches on Quick Think who joined Nom Du Jeu (2008), Dundeel (2013), Mongolian Khan (2015) and Jon Snow (2017) as Australian Derby winners for the New Zealand stable.
“It’s a phenomenal effort and I’m just thrilled for him. OTI too, they’ve been great clients of my father’s so very grateful to them,” Bjorn Baker said.
“I know Andrew and Murray haven’t had the best of seasons so they’ve been hankering to do well here, keen to get a lot of new horses in the stable and have a good go for next season.
“I think they’ll be thrilled, they’ll just be disappointed they’re not here.”
“He’s been a pretty laid back customer. I was confident he was the fittest horse in the race and as it was it worked out that way.”
“Let’s be honest – we know Murray and Andrew’s horses improve lengths when they stay at Warwick Farm (laughing).
“We keep them in contact. It’s very good because our stables do run similar, all about routine, routine, routine.
Leading Kiwi jockey Opie Bosson settled in Sydney before the travel restrictions were applied and was on hand at Randwick today to produce another world class ride.
Bosson had Quick Thinker ready to pounce at the top of the straight and pushed the button to full throttle on top of the rise.
Quick Thinker ($8) responded magnificently and when challenged by runner up Zebrowski ($13), was able to dig deep and keep his head it front to score a tough won.
Queensland trained three year old Eric The Eel ($19) chimed in from last and looked some hope at the 250m but couldn’t reign in the first two placegetters to finish third just ahead of top fancy Shadow Hero ($5.50).
The Richard Litt trained Castelvecchio was sent out as the $2.60 favourite but after beginning well, drifted back in the field and struggled in the straight to finish in ninth spot.
Bjorn Baker said that there was never any question that Quick Thinker would handle the 2400m of the Australian Derby after winning the Group 2 $200,000 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill last Saturday.
“A few people were even questioning whether this bloke would stay – I said ‘I’d never underestimate the,’,” Baker said.
“It’s a great result – in New Zealand they’re in lockdown, I think they can’t even have a celebratory drink together so they’ll enjoy it a lot.”