A supreme staying performance from New Zealand filly Bonneval in the Australian Oaks at Randwick has given her trainers a unique Classic double in Sydney.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Bonneval was forced to chase hard from back in the field in Saturday’s 2400m Oaks to get to bold frontrunner Lasqueti Spirit and the trailing Perfect Rhyme.
But the recent New Zealand Oaks winner was up to the task and drew away over the final 100m to defeat Perfect Ryhme by 4-1/2 lengths with Lasqueti Spirit holding third, another long neck away.
Bonneval’s win came a week after her stablemate Jon Snow claimed the $2 million Australian Derby.
The last trainer to win the Australian Derby-Oaks double was Clarry Conners in 1989 who won both Classics with the same horse, Research.
“”It’s a big thrill,” Baker said.
“I love coming to Australia. The racing’s fantastic and the stakes are good.”
It was a first Australian Oaks for Baker and his 20th Australian Group One win, a record for a New Zealand-based trainer.
Lasqueti Spirit rolled to the front to assume her customary role at the 1600m and made it a genuine staying test like she did when she led all the way in the VRC Oaks last spring.
Bonneval was spotting her a big start at the 600m before jockey Hugh Bowman got to work on the $4.20 equal favourite.
Bonneval had many lengths to make up but not long after Perfect Ryhme got to Lasqueti Spriit at the 200m, Bonneval was quickly on the scene and then surged clear.
“I think she’ll certainly make her presence felt in the springtime on that performance,” Bowman, who won his fourth Oaks, said.
“She showed her true staying ability because it was a real test.”
Bowman said Baker’s record speaks for itself and was an honour to win another feature for the trainer and also Forsman, who has been in partnership with Baker for the past couple of years.
“I rode my first VRC Derby for Murray [Baker] aboard Lion Tamer (in 2010),” Bowman said.
Trainer Ron Leemon was proud of Perfect Rhyme’s second, having also finished runner-up in the Adrian Knox Stakes a week earlier.
“She is a very good filly, she just can;t seem to win a race,” Leemon said.
“The only race she has won is a class one but she has run some great races.”
Lasqueti Spirit’s trainer Lee Curtis would have liked a dry track as he said the filly gets bogged down in the heavy going.
“But she has run bravely,” Curtis said.
“I would have liked to have hung on for second.”