George Baker tips Stradivarius to hit right note in St Leger

Fri 15 Sep 2017

George Baker has revealed Stradivarius would be his mount of choice in the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday.

Baker landed Britain's oldest Classic last year aboard the Laura Mongan-trained Harbour Law, but has been out of the saddle since February after a horror fall at St Moritz saw him airlifted off the ice to a trauma unit in Chur, Switzerland.

He has since made a recovery nothing short of inspirational, and is relieved to be leading a normal life after suffering bleeding in his brain.

While favouring Stradivarius, Baker believes the weather will play a huge part in the outcome of the final Classic of the season.

He said: "I'd like to see Stradivarius win it. I used to ride for the owner Bjorn Nielsen quite a bit. The drying ground is going to help and hopefully we don't get any rain.

"For a Leger I think it's an ultra-competitive race and there's four or five with fantastic chances. If we get rain, that's just going to make it a harder race to win.

"If we do get rain, I think it's an open race and I fancy John Gosden's filly (Coronet) if we get loads."

He went on: "Looking through it, there's nothing guaranteed to set the pace. Capri isn't guaranteed to stay so I can't believe an O'Brien horse will go out and set a really good pace.

2016 Ladbrokes St Leger Festival - Ladbrokes St Leger Day - Doncaster Racecouse

Baker celebrates his victory on Harbour Law in the St Leger last year

"You've got to stay well, it's a mile-seven really as it's an extended mile-six. It will be an interesting race to watch."

The return to Doncaster on Friday evoked some brilliant memories for Baker and the jockey recalled the moment he crossed the line in front 12 months ago.

He said: "It didn't feel real, it felt like a dream. It took a long time to sink in. Normally driving home is a three-hour drive, but it felt like five minutes.

"I wasn't top end and for any sort of lower-grade jockey, it's a fantastic achievement to win a Classic. To win a Leger was amazing, one I'll never forget."

He added of his continued rehabilitation: "It's going well. I can see light at the end of the tunnel now, which is good, and I'm improving slowly but surely. I'm just glad to be out and about and doing normal things again.

"My goal when I was in hospital was to get home and lead a normal life and I'm doing that. Race-riding would obviously be amazing if that came along, but it's a long, long way away and we'll just see what happens.

"I don't know whether it's realistic (race-riding) but it's definitely a goal and I'll keep going for it whilst I keep improving, and it's a good goal to have because it's pushing me to get as well as I can."

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