Simply Brilliant is an intriguing addition to the Bjorn Baker stable, but there was no mystery about her impressive trial win at Rosehill on Monday morning.
The 6YO daughter of Starcraft won a strong 1030-metre trial comfortably under a hold, more than a length ahead of last season’s Group 1-placed colt Honorius and the Baker-trained stakeswinner Cantonese.
Baker said afterwards, “Simply Brilliant is a pretty smart horse, and she appeared to win effortlessly. She has lots of quality and plenty of scope, and provided she pulls up well, she will probably start at Warwick Farm next Wednesday.”
Although Simply Brilliant arrived at the young trainer’s Warwick Farm establishment little more than two months ago, he knows her very well because this is the second time he has trained her. However, the mare has taken a distinctly circuitous route back to Baker’s care.
Simply Brilliant was bred in Australia by Paul and Lyndall Makin who raced Starcraft, and then supported his stud career by buying mares specifically for his first two books, as well as mares in foal to the champion miler.
Simply Brilliant’s dam She’s A Pretender, a stakes-placed sister to Nothin’ Leica Dane, both by Danehill, was purchased at the 2007 Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale with Simply Brilliant in utero and re-sold a year later, again in foal to Starcraft.
The Makins retained Simply Brilliant along with a chestnut filly out of We Can’t Say That from Starcraft’s first crop and sent them both as early 2YOs to Murray & Bjorn Baker, then training in partnership in Cambridge, New Zealand.
Bjorn Baker recalls, “We had a super group of young horses that year. The other Starcraft filly was We Can Say It Now, we had Lion Tamer at the same time, and Simply Brilliant was right in the mix.”
The two fillies began their careers as late 2YOs at the same Matamata meeting, on 19 May 2010, and nearly completed a perfect double, when We Can Say It Now won her race and Simply Brilliant ran a close second in her debut.
We Can Say It Now won a stakes race three starts later and trounced both her own age-group and the older New Zealand milers at Group 1 level in the spring of 2010. She was retired later that season and sent to the UK where she foaled a colt by Montjeu in February this year.
Meanwhile, Simply Brilliant resumed in October 2010, placing at Taupo before notching up two wins, including a 5.5 length defeat of older horses over 1600 metres at Awapuni, on the same day that Lion Tamer won the Victoria Derby.
An injury suffered when she shied at a bird during trackwork ended Simply Brilliant’s 3YO campaign and in July 2011 the Makins sent her to the United States to be trained by Christophe Clement in New York. Unfortunately, Simply Brilliant’s career was again derailed by injury and she was sold at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Mixed Sale in February this year.
And so Simply Brilliant returned to Australia in May, almost four years after her first departure, to race in the ownership of Bob Guth’s Galaxy Breeding. Bjorn Baker is clearly delighted that fortune’s wheel has delivered her back to him, but his first concern is to keep her free of injury, take her through the grades and give her a chance to fulfil the ability she showed three years ago.
Starcraft stands at Arrowfield in 2013 at a fee of $22,000 inc. GST.