Impressive form on the training track has Bons Away primed for a crack at the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate.
The four-year-old gelding has been a notable early mover in TAB fixed odds all-in betting, firming from $26 to $13 for Saturday’s 1100m handicap at Caulfield since the market opened on Monday.
“He’s come back really well,” trainer Aaron Purcell said.
“We probably hadn’t really thought the Oakleigh Plate was his race at the start of the preparation but he came back so well and his work has been so strong that I think he deserves to take his chance.”
Bons Away has impressed in two recent Caulfield jump-outs, including his most recent last week when he sprinted past Oakleigh Plate rival Snitty Kitty to win the heat.
“Obviously you’ve got to be going well to win an Oakleigh Plate but I don’t think he could be showing us much more on the track than what he is,” Purcell said.
Bons Away is set to be one of two runners for the stable in the Oakleigh Plate along with Lady Esprit who stormed home out wide to overhaul odds-on favourite Snitty Kitty in the Listed W J Adams Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield last start.
“Lady Esprit is a horse who needs things to work out for her and obviously when they do, she’s pretty good,” Purcell said.
“A hot speed in an Oakleigh Plate would suit her. The 1100 metres is at the top of her distance range, but off the minimum weight if she gets the suck run, you never know.”
Linda Meech will ride Bons Away while Regan Bayliss sticks with Lady Esprit who was at $51 on Tuesday.
Acceptances will be taken on Wednesday.
Russian Revolution was the $4.60 favourite ahead of star filly She Will Reign ($6.50).
Winner of five of 11 starts, Bons Away’s biggest win came in the Listed Testa Rossa Stakes at Caulfield last spring, narrowly beating subsequent Everest placegetter Brave Smash.
“A repeat performance of that would definitely see him run well,” Purcell said.
Bons Away then finished fourth in the Gilgai Stakes before being unplaced in the Linlithgow Stakes, both races on the Flemington straight course.
Purcell said Bons Away and Lady Esprit’s respective handicapper ratings of 98 suggested there probably wasn’t much between the pair.
“But I’d probably lean towards Bons Away,” he said.