Day At The Track

Baker enjoying success with leading stable

06:07 AM 05 Apr 2019 NZDT
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Alpha Male's Need For Speed Final win,Harness racing
Ustin Baker (fourth from left) celebrates Alpha Male's Need For Speed Final win with Emma Stewart, Clayton Tonkin, Chris Alford and connections.
Stuart McCormick photo

Justin Baker has quickly become attached to the Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin stable.

The 42-year-old has enjoyed plenty of success since joining the ownership ranks in recent times and is hoping one of his newest acquisitions can debut in winning fashion this Friday night at Ballarat.

The well-bred Pandering, who is a half-brother to $500,000-winning US pacer Panmunjom, heads to the races with some good trial form under his belt.

Pandering, who will be driven by Chris Alford in the Cervus Sunshine 2YO Pace (1710m), is being targeted at the Group 1 Allwood Stud SA Sale Classic Final.

"Really the aim was to buy a horse to support the sale and then hopefully try and get a runner in the Allwood race in June," Baker said.

"That Adelaide race is just a really good one in terms of where it sits in the program."

While there are Group 1 aspirations for the son of Courage Under Fire, Baker isn't going over the top with his expectations.

"He's a pretty natural two-year-old. He just does everything right," Baker said.

"We think he's going to be a nice two-year-old. I'm not sure where he sits in the pecking order down there (at the Cardigan stables) and that's obviously an Emma and Clayton thing. I generally don't ask them, but I think he's going to make a nice two-year-old.

"He's just really well gaited. I think doing it all right at this stage as a two-year-old is a big part of it, so I reckon he'll go pretty well."

Baker's first real taste of success came with the ultra-talented The Storm Inside.

That horse collected the Group 1 Australian Pacing Gold Final before being crowned the 2YO Pacing Colts/Geldings Horse of the Year in 2016.

"It has really gone from there," Baker said.

"I get along really well with (Emma and Clayton), I love spending time with them and their records speak for themselves.

"We've probably bought 15 or 20 horses with them in the last three or four years."

Surely the most exciting of those is gifted trotter Alpha Male, who is already a dual winner at the elite level and is being set for the IRT Harness Jewels in New Zealand later this year.

"It's a heck of a lot of fun with those guys and spending time with them outside of the races is also really good fun," Baker said.

"They're great mates of mine and they make it all the more worthwhile from our perspective."

Baker has never achieved a winning double on the same program, but looks a chance of securing a treble at Friday night's meeting.

He also has ownership of Stewart-trained pacers Concealment and Phoenix Prince, which look well placed on their home track.


Tim O'Connor

for Trots Media

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