February 2024


Cumulonimbus in his Team British Racing rug

British trainer George Baker has a busy week ahead with runners in the Middle East and Europe. He is currently in Bahrain, training his seven-strong contingent set to compete in the Turf Series, including recent-winner LUCANDER who lines up in the feature race of this Friday’s fixture.

As soon as this raceday ends, Baker will fly to Switzerland to oversee the final preparations of his two runners in Sunday’s Grosser Preis von St Moritz, the feature race on the final day of the White Turf meeting at St Moritz. The trainer with a state of the art training facility in Surrey, in the South of England, aims to further improve his strong résumé.

Baker spoke to Great British Racing International (GBRI) from Bahrain:

“Bahrain has been fantastic for us. We have been coming here for the last three years now. We first came with a couple of handicappers to dip our toe in the water and we very much enjoyed it. The enthusiasm for racing in Bahrain is very evident and we were delighted to bring back three horses last season. They all performed with credit and this gave us the confidence to put together a bigger gang.

“We have seven horses over here this season. Lucander has won a Turf Series race and ran a massive race in the Crown Prince’s Cup. He will run this week in H.H Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa Cup. He has also been invited to stay here for the King’s Cup which is a very valuable race in the beginning of March. It’s been a very good campaign so far and it’s been great to be involved.”

Baker has also enjoyed success in recent years at the White Turf meetings in St Moritz:

“St Moritz has been a part of our racing plans for many years. We won with a horse called ANCIENT GREECE (GB) around 10 years ago. He won at all three race meetings on the White Turf which was the first time any horse had ever done that. We then went back a few years ago with WARGRAVE who managed to win the Grosser Preis von St Moritz, which was a great thrill. It’s always been on our radar and going back with two horses is exciting.”

The trainer went on to talk about his two runners at this Sunday’s meeting, CEMHAAN (GB) & CUMULONIMBUS:

“Cemhaan has always been a quality performer in the UK. He was third at Royal Ascot last year and the previous year he won the Heritage Handicap on 1000 Guineas day at Newmarket. He is a proven horse.

“Cumulonimbus is a new addition to the team. He is a horse that my wife Candida and I loved when we saw him at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses In Training Sale in October but he went for 150,000 guineas so we thought he was gone on to other pastures.

“But we were called that night by Ramiro Restrepo, who is involved in the syndicate that won the Kentucky Derby last year with MAGE. Ramiro had noted our exploits on the frozen lake at St Moritz and the call was a lovely one to get as it was to ask us if were interested to train the horse and prepare him for St Moritz.

“Both horses have done everything we have asked of them. They will ship over on Wednesday, arrive on Thursday, and have their special snowshoe and plates put on. You can never replicate what they will be doing there. All we can do is send them in good form and good health and that is the case right now.”

Going on to talk about the ownership group involved in Cumulonimbus, Baker said:

“It's a great thrill to have owners like this on board. The syndicate that Ramiro and his other partners have put together comprises of big names in American racing including trainers, bloodstock agents and farm owners across Kentucky and elsewhere in the USA.

“It is a wonderful contingent of racing minds and there is going to be over 80 of them flying over to make the most of the White Turf experience. For us it is fantastic to have this team on board and hopefully both horses can make their owners proud out there before coming back and giving them some big days during the core part of the UK season.”

Kentucky Derby winning owner Ramiro Restrepo, who is new to ownership in Britain, echoed the enthusiasm of the trainer when speaking to GBRI:

“We are very excited for this new adventure. This has been the plan since Martin Buick bought him for us at Tattersalls in October. The Grosser Preis von St Moritz is a unique race and George Baker knows how to win it. We just can’t wait to get there now and see Cumulonimbus do his thing. We’d love to win it!

“After his race in St Moritz, we are looking forward to an action-packed campaign in the UK. He has a rating that could see him line up at Royal Ascot, so it should be a fun year!”

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