Baker down but not out after losing stars

Trainer Bjorn Baker is without two of his best horses but is upbeat about the coming months.

Losing two of his best horses to injury within days of one another has been a cruel start to the year for Bjorn Baker but the in-form trainer says the show must go on.

Champagne Cuddles, a dual Group winner and four-time Group One placegetter, has been retired after suffering a rare and career-ending leg injury during the Magic Millions Snippets at the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Three days later, Baker confirmed Group One winner Samadoubt had strained a tendon, sidelining him for 12 months.

“That’s the nature of the beast,” Baker said.

“They’ve been two great horses and I am just grateful Champagne Cuddles looks like she is going to be fine.

“Samadoubt will get all the recuperation he needs and we will see how he goes this time next year.”

Aside from this week’s run of misfortune, Baker is enjoying a terrific season.

He sits fifth on the premiership table with 23 Sydney winners, just 13 shy of his overall total during 2018/19.

He is also entrenched among the top five NSW stables with 67 winners state-wide heading into Thursday’s Gosford meeting, behind only Kris Lees, Chris Waller and the Snowdens.

Baker hopes to add to that tally at Rosehill on Saturday when he will have up to six runners, headed by the lightly raced Connemara, a mare with the potential to develop into one of his autumn flag bearers.

“We’ve been getting plenty of winners, the winners haven’t been the problem,” Baker said.

“We had Boomtown Rat win Wednesday (at Warwick Farm) so we can’t complain from that point of view.

“Connemara did a super job last preparation and she is very consistent.

“She is a mare I’ve always had a lot of time for and she is really just coming into her own now.”

Connemara has missed a place just twice in 14 starts and showed she was up to black-type level with successive thirds in the Mona Lisa and Tibbie Stakes last spring.

Proven on wet and dry ground, Connemara resumes in Saturday’s Bill Waterhouse Handicap (1100m), a race Baker hopes will be a stepping stone to bigger carnival targets.

“I’m looking at giving her a month between runs and possibly going to the Triscay on the 15th February but we will see,” Baker said.

“We might look for something better down the line.”

In an open betting race, Connemara was $12 with TAB fixed odds on Thursday with Tulloch Lodge entire Embracer a narrow favourite ahead of the Mark Newnham-trained Invictus Salute.

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