If Bjorn Baker had any doubts about whether reformed amateur rider Jenny Duggan would cut it on his horses, he needn't have looked far to find out.
"She initially came out to Australasia and New Zealand, and she worked for my father [Kiwi trainer Murray Baker] and my mother who is from Sweden," Baker said after Duggan steered Geemeup to victory at Kembla Grange yesterday.
"This was her first job down here and I didn't realise that until I put her on a horse.
"It's funny how it works. Back then, my father said she had a great attitude, was very brave and was a hard worker. It's getting her places."
So much so that Duggan is two winners away from reducing her three-kilogram claim at metropolitan meetings, less than a year after her transition into the professional ranks.
"I think it was in 2000 I worked for him [Murray Baker] for about six months," Duggan said. "He was like a mafia boss, Murray - really funny. He's a bit like Bjorn, funny and he's got a very dry sense of humour."
It's not the first time Baker, the hottest young training talent in Sydney, has enlisted Duggan with success. The pair combined five times with tough-as-nails stayer Cantonese for success at metropolitan level last year.
"She's riding super and I've had a lot of luck with her," Baker said. "That must be about her 10th win for me."
Geemeup's ($4) success came just four days after she ploughed through the heavy going at Rosehill to win a Benchmark 80 Handicap (1400 metres).
The drop in grade back to a Benchmark 70 Handicap (1400 metres) aided the High Chaparral mare, which safely held Mossmoney ($3.20) to a three-quarters-of-a-length margin on the line.
"I couldn't believe how well she did," Baker said. "She's a lot stronger mentally and physically than what she was. It's like a dream at the moment and she's a big part of it."
Duggan added: "I actually rode this horse at Gosford one day over 1000 metres and she led, and wasn't that impressive, I didn't think - keeping in mind she wants more ground. [Yesterday] over the mile she was really big and strong, running at a real solid tempo, but sort of had the last laugh. It was impressive."
Meantime, Baker conceded a start for flying filly Quick's The Word in Kembla Grange's richest race, the Keith Nolan Classic (1600 metres), was unlikely after she sped to victory in the three-year-old No Metro Wins Handicap (1000 metres).
Bred and owned by entrepreneur Gerry Harvey, Quick's The Word ($4.30) extended her unbeaten start to her career to two after knuckling down to beat Ephoral ($4.90).
Pressed on whether the $165,000 Group 3 feature could persuade Baker to return to Kembla with Quick's The Word, he said: "It's a long way off," he said. "I'd probably say doubtful, but you never know."