Like father, like son: Why this will be a special Melbourne Cup for the Bakers

New Zealand training genius Murray Baker spawned a Melbourne Cup obsession in son Bjorn before he was even a teenager – and the pair will finally have their own runners in Australia’s great race for the first time on Tuesday.

Murray prepared The Phantom to run fourth in the 1989 Flemington two-miler behind Tawriffic, the fourth straight week he sent the hearty bay to the races after he contested the Caulfield Stakes, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.

The next year the same horse returned to finish second behind Kingston Rule, who won in a time which still stands as the Melbourne Cup record.

“I’ve followed his horses my whole life,” Bjorn said. “I was only 12 when The Phantom came second. I’ve obviously taken a lot of interest in the race and it will be great to have a runner on Tuesday.”

For the record, Murray reckons Bjorn was partial to a bet in his school days.

And it was always going to be odds-on they would eventually feature in the same Melbourne Cup after Bjorn helped Murray on many Melbourne Cup campaigns, including when Harris Tweed ran fifth behind Shocking and Americain in consecutive years (2009 and 2010).

Father and son Murray (right) and Bjorn Baker will have Melbourne Cup runners in their own right for the first time on Tuesday.Credit:Vince Caligiuri

The pair won’t be trackside together at Flemington – Murray is in lockdown in New Zealand – but they will be cheering longshots She’s Ideel (Bjorn) and The Chosen One (Murray), who was fourth in last year’s Melbourne Cup.

“I think it’s great Bjorn’s got a runner and his horse is by Dundeel, who I trained,” Murray said. “It fits in along the way. We’re happy with our horse and he just overraced at Caulfield. He pulled hard and you can’t pull when you’re running over ground.”

Two-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien has had bragging rights over legendary father Aidan in recent years, while Peter Snowden and son Paul train in partnership, preparing Carif for this year’s race.

While Incentivise is poised to be the shortest-priced Melbourne Cup favourite since Phar Lap, the Baker horses will be well outside the market. Sportsbet listed The Chosen One as a $51 chance on Sunday, while She’s Ideel was $91.

Murray Baker with his former star Dundeel, who sires son Bjorn’s first Melbourne Cup runner She’s Ideel.Credit:Marco Del Grande

“I’m very happy with her,” Bjorn says of She’s Ideel. “She seems to have got down here in good order. I thought her run in the Caulfield Cup was good. A good track will be good for her. Obviously it’s not a good gate, but it’s not the worst for her. She’ll get back from there.

“She ran a good fourth in the Sydney Cup. I don’t think she’s completely out of it. She’s maybe been a bit hit-and-miss, but she’s shown she’s up to it. Her run first-up was outstanding and in the Kingston Town was really good too.

“We’re not getting carried away, but I think she’s in there as some hope.”

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