A busy day awaits trainer George Baker as he saddles six runners on Friday, including four horses with live chances in the Bahrain Turf Series, a pair in each race in what will be round two of the series. A great supporter of racing in Bahrain, this season Baker has sent seven horses, his largest team yet, from England to compete in the Bahrain Turf Series and other races at the Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club.
Running from December through to February, the Bahrain Turf Series provides opportunities for internationally trained runners (rated 85-100) to compete against local Bahrain based horses across ten races. Each race is worth $80,000 with bonus prizes for the horses accumulating most points in the two divisions, sprint and middle distance.
The highest rated horse in Baker’s team is Lucander, who is back chasing more Bahrain glory having enjoyed a successful stay in 2022-23. In Friday’s Al Dana Cup, Lucander is reunited with jockey Pat Cosgrave and together the combination won the Al Muharraq Cup in 2022, round one of Bahrain Turf Series last season.
Lucander started his 2023-24 campaign with an excellent third in this year’s Al Muharraq Cup, behind impressive winner Isle Of Jura, trained by George Scott. On Friday, Isle Of Jura will have to give weight away to Lucander and furthermore George Baker believes his horse has improved for the run.
George Baker, said: “Lucander ran a great race last time out. I thought he would need the run and indeed the jockey reported he took a blow (of air) before running on again to be third. I was delighted and everybody has been happy with him since. He meets Isle Of Jura on better terms so we are very hopeful.”
Along with Lucander, Baker also saddles Graignes in the Al Dana Cup, the seven-year-old will be having his first run in Bahrain but won twice in Britain earlier this year. The Al Dana Cup, run over 2000m, promises to be a thrilling and competitive race for the middle-distance division of the Bahrain Turf Series with six of the first seven from round one reopposing one another.
Baker also saddles two horses in the sprint division, the Al Riffa Cup, run over 1200m. He runs Get It, winner of a Bahrain Turf Series race last season, and Kiwano, who, like Lucander, Baker believes will improve for his recent run.
Talking about Kiwano, George Baker said: “I like this horse enormously. We bought him to run at the big summer festivals in Britain, but he had a couple of niggles and we ended up keeping him fresh for the winter in Bahrain. He will benefit from the step up to 1200m, his last run was good and it blew away some cobwebs. He has come out of the race in good form and he is training very well.”
Baker added: “Get It missed round one of the Bahrain Turf Series due to having a slight temperature having just coming off the plane, but all is good now and he is in fine form.”
“We had three horses out in Bahrain last year and this year we have seven. We have our own quarantine barn and my team of Patrick and Valerie are running things on the ground. We have learned from the previous two years and we know our way around.
“The facilities in Bahrain are absolutely fantastic and it is a wonderful experience for our owners to come out and watch their horses run.”
On Friday, as well as having four horses competing in the Bahrain Turf Series, Baker also runs Simply Sondheim in the Kuwait Finance House Cup (2400m) and Sir Winston in the Humphrey Butler Fine Jewellery Cup (1600m) and over twenty of the trainer’s owners are flying out to attend the raceday.
Launched in 2021-22, this season is the third edition of the ten-race Bahrain Turf Series. The series runs alongside the domestic programme in Bahrain with international horses competing in the series also eligible to run in other Bahrain Turf Club races open to imported horses.
The confirmed field for the second-round of the sprint division of the Bahrain Turf Series, the Al Riffa Cup run over 1200m, can be viewed here.
The confirmed field for the second-round of the middle-distance division of the Bahrain Turf Series, the Al Dana Cup run over 2000m, can be viewed here.
Thursday 28th December 2023