Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker is more than an interested observer at the Dubai World Cup, 11 years after he watched Hong Kong’s New Zealand-bred stayer Vengeance Of Rain win the Sheema Classic.
Baker now has a more hands-on involvement at the world’s richest race meeting, with Music Magnate one of three Australian hopes in the Group One $1 million Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) at Meydan.
“I was lucky enough to come here when Vengeance of Rain won the staying race and Invasor won the World Cup,” Baker told media in Dubai.
He hopes the gap between visits will not be as long in future.
“It’s very hard to find a horse that’s good enough,” he said.
“It’s very hard to weigh up the competition, it’s hard to compare form and line it up.”
Baker arrived in Dubai on Wednesday, a week after the six-year-old settled in with the trainer’s apprentice Jean Van Overmeire.
“He’s travelled great, I couldn’t be happier with him,” Baker said.
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Music Magnate has only raced once since May last year, winning the Listed Christmas Classic at Randwick on December 30.
“He’s been ticking along in work for a fair while so he’s got that residual fitness,” Baker said.
“His first-up record is excellent and his firm track record is excellent too.
“The unknown factor is the straight 1200 but he’s had plenty of practice,” he said.
Music Magnate is attempting to become the third Australian-trained winner of the Al Quoz Sprint following Ortensia in 2012 and Buffering (2016).
The Peter Gelagotis-trained Illustrious Lad and Lindsay Park’s Faatinah will also represent Australia.
While Van Overmeire has put Music Magnate through his paces at track work, Blake Shinn will be in the saddle in the race which is scheduled for 1am Sunday, AEDT.
“This is the ride of a lifetime,” Shinn said.
“Obviously we’ve had Buffering and Ortensia fly the flag so it’s great to be representing Australia.”