Any winner is pleasing but Kath Bell-Pitomac was particularly proud to ride Baker’s Image to victory for Gayna Williams at Narromine on Thursday.
The Wellington jockey has made real strides since making the move up from the picnic circuit and on Thursday she spurred Baker’s Image on to a tight win in a photo finish.
The gelding went to Narromine having not tasted success since scoring on debut at Wellington a year ago, but recent signs had been promising.
“He just really, really found that last bit and he really dug in for me. He just really kept digging and it was really good,” Bell-Pitomac told Sky Thoroughbred Central after the win.
It marked the second winning ride Bell-Pitomac has had for Mudgee-based Williams this month, the previous coming aboard Magic Ticket at Dubbo on Melbourne Cup day.
“She’s been brilliant,” Bell-Pitomac said of Williams.
“I try to get to Mudgee at least once a week and ride for her but even before that, she was really supportive of me back at the picnics.
“She’s a lovely person to work with and to ride for.”
All the focus prior to the running of the Rushweld Benchmark 58 Handicap (1300m) was on the Cameron Crockett-trained pair of Andy’s A Star ($2.90 favourite) and the hulking Axis ($6.50).
She’s a lovely person to work with and to ride for.Kath Bell-Pitomac on Gayna Williams
The latter was away well and set the pace early on while Baker’s Image settled midfield between Andy’s A Star and the Connie Greig-trained Naoko ($9.50) after jumping from barrier 10.
Axis led the field into the bend and while Andy’s A Star had a clear run and Naoko peeled to the extreme outside, Bell-Pitomac and Baker’s Image struggled to find a gap.
She moved further wide to find it but still had plenty to do as Andy’s A Star took control.
Bell-Pitomac got the five-year-old to surge late and she nabbed the win from Crockett’s hope while Naoko was third.
With the tricky angle of the Narromine finish line Williams confessed she didn’t think she won.
“I didn’t. It was a terrible angle but I’m just really happy for Kath and the connections,” she said.
“He (Baker’s Image) been going really well and was racing really good at Warren but got some interference at a crucial time and was unlucky.”
“He tracks really well for Kath and she has done a marvellous job from that outside gate.”
Baker’s Image was one of just two hopes for both Williams and Bell-Pitomac at Narromine. The pair had previously combined in the Alan Lloyd Memorial Kooler Ice Benchmark 66 Handicap (1600m) as Baker’s Image ran home in fifth spot.
That race was won by veteran Something Borrowed from the stables of Justin Stanley.