Baker content to pick up crumbs at Kembla Grange

Off The Rails (Christian Reith) scrapes home at Kembla Grange on Tuesday. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN
Off The Rails (Christian Reith) scrapes home at Kembla Grange on Tuesday. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN


A $2.4 million carrot awaits the connections of Bjorn Baker's Twilight Royale next month, but he was happy to take whatever he could get with recent acquisition Off The Rails at Kembla Grange on Tuesday.

Formerly under the care of Grahame Begg, Off The Rails ($2.80fav) wasted no time making a winning start to life at Baker's Warwick Farm stables with a gritty victory in the Benchmark 60 Handicap (1400m).

The winning purse was a mere $12,250, excluding the $5000 BOBS bonus, chicken feed compared with the massive payday awaiting Twilight Royale if she can win the Scone Guineas.

"I'm just a lucky benefactor," Baker said after Off The Rails' sterling effort.

"I've only had him for a couple of weeks, but I'll take it. We've just got him into our routine and he's done really well."

Christian Reith box-seated on the Snitzel three-year-old and wore down early leader Was Meant To Be ($8.50) to win by a head with Darley's Respected ($10) a short head back in third.

And if Baker was in any doubt about what to do with Off The Rails next, Reith certainly let him know his opinion.

"He let down really well and in my opinion I think the horse will get further," Reith said. "I would like to see them get him out over a trip.

"The change of stable and maybe the new environment helped. He gave me a good feel and always travelled well. It's just a matter of getting him out in the clear and getting him going.

"He's going well and learning his trade, but he'll win more races."

Reith rode a winning treble after booting home Our Sarastro (Bart and James Cummings) and Medcaut (Peter Snowden) in the last two races.

Meanwhile, Gwenda Markwell produced another first-starter not in the market to defeat more fancied stablemates - and even she didn't see it coming.

"I probably didn't think he was as good as Beyond All because he's had a bit of racing," Markwell said after Musk Stick swamped the odds-on favourite to win the Maiden Plate (1000m) at Kembla.

It was another trick in the runaway premiership leader's bag as Scott Pollard, struggling to keep up on Musk Stick in the early going, drove the debutant hard to gun down Beyond All in the final strides.

The well-bred three-year-old is out of Marwina mare Duchess Talaria, a Keith Nolan Classic aspirant way back in 2002. And Musk Stick ($21) gave every impression he will relish more ground after rocketing home.

"It was a pleasant surprise," Pollard said. "He trialled OK, but he's never actually gone really well but you get the feeling he's always had the ability to go well.

"It wasn't until I gave him a couple of backhanders, he actually dug in and I thought, 'He's going to go here'. And then he just kept getting quicker and quicker and lengthening stride.

"For it to finish off as well as it did ... I was a bit surprised but it was not unexpected.

"You would have to think over 1200 or 1400 [metres], he's going to be a handy little horse. I do think he's going to end up better than this grade."

Beyond All was a short $2.05 favourite and James McDonald ambled up to the lead at the furlong pole on the four-year-old, but connections were left frustrated as Beyond All racked up his sixth minor placing in 11 starts.


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