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Fairytale finish for Stephen Baster

Steve Bennett in News 17 Nov 2019
  • Fairytale finish becomes reality for Baster
Fairytale finish for Stephen Baster

As though the script was written, the riding career of Stephen Baster came to an end on Saturday with victory in his final race.

Riding for dear life, the ‘Smiling Assassin’ (as he is known) threw everything he had at Gold Fields to get the Churchill Downs gelding over the line in front of the rest.

It was a tactical ride by Baster, taking the lead at a crucial time, knowing just how long the Sandown home straight is, and in the end, the timing proved to be spot on.

The victory, as sweet as it was, came at a cost though, with Baster then feeling the wrath of the racing stewards, who found him guilty of breaching the whip rule by, would you believe it, one whip stroke.

He struck Gold Fields a total of six times prior to the 100m mark, which was one more than the rule allows.

Clearly a suspension was out of the question, so the stewards slapped a fine on him for the rule breach.

However, the $1,000 fine imposed upon him was completely washed away by the moment itself, and the (deserved) accolades he received as he returned to scale. 

That moment brought to an end, a fulfilling and rewarding career for one of the most popular and likable riders ever to strap on the boots.

His nickname, Smiling Assassin, speaks for itself once you get to know him as no matter what the occasion, he has that happy smile embedded on his face which makes it a joy just to speak to him.

When asked what his most memorable moment has been during his 28-year career, he said (with that smile), there hasn’t been just one, in fact he had four he wanted to share.

"Mookta winning any of his Group 1's because I was claiming three (kilograms)," he said of his first highlight.  
"Awesome Rock after losing the Australian Cup on protest and then coming out and winning the Mackinnon was massive and then Pinot winning the Oaks was huge.  
"And finishing off like this is amazing. Just amazing."

Mookta was the first of 14 Group One victories for Baster, when he won the 1993 Oakleigh Plate. 

He then teamed up with the same horse to win the Group One Newmarket Hcp a year later.

Losing the Australian Cup on protest when riding Awesome Rock was certainly a memorable moment but one that wasn’t such a happy time for Baster.

He did, however, make amends on the team Corstens-trained stallion by winning the Group Two Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley later that year and then just eight weeks later, they paired up again to win the Group One McKinnon Stakes.

Baster enjoyed a long relationship with Leon and Troy Corstens and towards the end of his career he teamed up with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott where he also enjoyed Group One success.

Baster was given the reins aboard the Pierro filly Pinot where he steered her to victory, firstly in the Oaks trial, then the Group Three Ethereal Stakes and finally the Group One Kennedy Oaks to complete the perfect hat-trick.

These were the most memorable moments that capped off a colourful career for a very talented jockey.

He now hangs up the boots and begins a new chapter in his life as the 44-year-old takes on the real estate industry and tries his hand at selling property. 

After meeting the great man personally, I would like to wish him all the very best and every success in his new venture, and to thank him for the memorable moments he has given the racing industry. 

Yours truly with fellow Racingbase Journalist Arron Hamilton sharing a moment with Stephen Baster

Thanks for the memories Stevie.

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Fairytale finish for Stephen Baster

As though the script was written, the riding career of Stephen Baster came to an end on Saturday with victory in his final race.

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