Exuberant Warwick Farm trainer Bjorn Baker is determined to maintain his record of feature race success over the past year when he saddles up Overpass in Saturday's $1.5 million Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot in Perth.
Baker, who only weeks ago won the Group 1 $2 million Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington with Ozzmosis, returns to the scene of Overpass's major victory in the $4 million Quokka in April at Ascot.
The lightly-raced five-year-old defied a late surge by boom mare Amelia's Jewel in the slot race. Overpass has been winless at his last three starts but Baker hasn't been disappointed by those subsequent runs.
"I'm very happy with how Overpass is going into the Winterbottom," Baker told ACM Racing.
"Overpass has been running in top-class sprint races since his win in Perth's Quokka. We've freshened him up after his unplaced run in the Everest and that comes on the back of excellent runs in The Shorts and a second placing behind Giga Kick in the Doomben 10,000.
"His run in the Everest may not look that good but I was quite happy. It was a top class field of sprinters in the Everest. The Winterbottom has attracted a very good even field of sprinters but the Everest was a lot stronger race.
"Overpass went over to Perth last Monday and is at Simon Miller's stables. The reports back from Perth are Overpass has thrived since he arrived. I'll be heading over to Perth on Friday.
"The win by Overpass over Amelia's Jewel in the Quokka at Ascot in April was excellent. I don't think there are any Amelia's Jewel's in Saturday's Winterbottom. Group 1 races are always hard to win they don't give them away."
Talented Sydney-based jockey Josh Parr, who has ridden Overpass in his last four starts has been booked for the ride in Saturday's big Group 1 feature.
"Josh is a big race jockey," Baker said. "Josh flies under the radar. He's got a great understanding of Overpass. There's no need to load Josh up with instructions.
"Overpass has drawn barrier 11. We'll push forward from that barrier. We would have preferred to have drawn a better gate but it's what we've got and we've got to make the most of it."
Bookmakers have installed Overpass as the $2.90 favourite to win the Winterbottom.
Overpass has turned out to be a great buy for his connections. He sold for $75,000 at the 2020 Sydney Inglis Easter Yearling Sales and returned his owners more than $4.8 million in stake-money.
The Baker stable released an emotional video this week of Bjorn speaking about his stables success in 2023.
"It was my wife Andrea's idea to do the video," he said. "Andrea is the brains behind the outfit. I can't help it I wear my heart on my sleeve as it shows in the video.
"It's a tough industry training horses but I love it and so do our staff. We're a pretty tight knit group in the stable. We've been lucky to have had a fair bit of success since I moved to Warwick Farm with two horses from New Zealand in 2011.
"We've got 80 horses in work and we're looking at going to the next level. It's all about winning races for your owners and winning the Coolmore Stud Stakes with Ozzmosis lifted the profile of the stable.
"I admire what Chris Waller has been able to achieve since he moved to Sydney from New Zealand. He's the number one trainer in Australia. It was the best career move I could have made was moving to Sydney in 2011.
"Racing NSW have to be congratulated for what they have done for the sport. We're running for great prizemoney which gives owners a chance to recoup on their investments."
The Baker stable saddles up two runners at Rosehill on Saturday. Malkovich resumes in the $200,000 Starlight Stakes, while Dreamflight runs in the $200,000 Christmas Cup. Both horses are to be ridden by Rachel King who rode Ozzmosis to his Coolmore Stud Stakes victory.
"Malkovich is going well," Baker said. "I'm expecting a good first-up run from him. He's trialled up well at Rosehill and Hawkesbury leading into this run. Malkovich is the best of my two at Rosehill on Saturday.
"Rachel is a very underrated jockey but more people are starting to notice her after her win on Ozzmosis in the Coolmore Stud Stakes."
Malkovich is a $3.30 chance in the early betting markets for the Starlight Stakes.