THE Kiwis put the writing on the wall when taking out the Australian Derby with Jon Snow last Saturday and they returned when Bonneval took out the Group 1 Australian Oaks.
The amazing run from training partnership Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman continued at Randwick when the three-year-old extended its winning streak by taking out the $1 million Australian Oaks in emphatic fashion to give Kiwi-trained horses their fourth consecutive Oaks win.
Jockey Hugh Bowman let the daughter of Makfi find its feet as Lasqueti Spirit made the speed, but punters could see a long way from home that Bonneval was lapping up the heavy track and it quickly got to the leaders and breezed on past.
The $4.40 favourite at CrownBet.com.au extended its winning streak to four-consecutive races and continued the dominance of New Zealand-trained age-group stayers during the Sydney autumn carnival.
“It was a funny race, I had to make a few decisions today,” Bowman said. “I expected to be first four with Lasqueti Spirit out in front.
“When it was slow away I thought what do I do here, do I press on or do I just be patient and bide my time, that’s exactly what I did and this filly didn’t let me down.”
Bowman knew he had plenty of horse underneath, but he still had plenty of ground to make up on the two leaders.
“I was humming on the turn, but I did have a good 150m to make up and I don’t care what level you are at, that’s hard to do, she had it made up by the 100m mark and I could enjoy the ride with everyone else for the last few strides,” Bowman said.
Bowman will ride Winx following the Oaks in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but he wasn’t thinking ahead too early.
“This isn’t a warm up, this is a Group 1 ATC Oaks, this is very special to me, this is my fourth now and the third one aboard a New Zealand filly,” Bowman said.
“I went and worked her on Tuesday morning, it wasn’t so much the feel that she gave me that excited me, it was just the way she looked in her coat, the way she went about her business.”
It wasn’t the first time Bowman had ridden a quality three-year-old for Murray Baker – the pair linking up with Lion Tamer in the Derby.
“It is an honour (to ride for Baker and Forsman), obviously they’ve made a partnership over the last couple of years,” Bowman said.
“I rode my first VRC Derby for Murray aboard Lion Tamer.”
Murray Baker was on track to watch the race as Andrew Forsman stayed home to saddle up Charmont which won the Group 1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes just minutes earlier.
“I hope she might be a weight-for-age horse and we will have to have a look at something for her in the spring maybe, it’s a long way away,” Baker said.
“I was a bit worried about the ground but the horse is in terrific order, there are two tracks at Cambridge so the way of going wasn’t an issue.”
Perfect Rhyme battled on well for second after sitting on the speed with Lasqueti Spirit. Jockey Tye Angland was overjoyed with the result.
“Super effort,” Angland said. “Jumped from a wide gate and ended up having a beautiful run.
“Had to do the hard work bringing the other horses up to the leader but to her credit she stuck on very strongly.”
Jay Ford paid credit to Lasqueti Spirit as it had to do plenty of early work after missing the jump.
“She was very gallant,” he said. “Gate two proved to be a bit of a hindrance, it took a bit of navigation to get to the front, but I thought she was very gallant in defeat.”
With the win, Murray Baker became the most successful group one trainer in New Zealand’s history.