A Classic double in Sydney is in the sights of New Zealand trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
The training partners have already claimed the $2 million Australian Derby with Jon Snow at Randwick on the opening day of The Championships and their attention now turns to Saturday’s $1 million ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) for fillies in which they have the favourite Bonneval.
She heads to the Oaks after a three-race winning steak across the Tasman, all in Group races, culminating in the Group One New Zealand Oaks on March 18.
Jon Snow’s Australian Derby win was a fourth for Baker but a first for his training partner who is looking forward to the Oaks with a couple of reservations.
“She’s very good,” Forsman said.
“The two big queries will be the weather – she probably doesn’t really want a wet track – and she doesn’t have much experience racing right handed.
“So they’re two big queries.
“But we’re very happy with how she’s settled in and she’s definitely got the ability to win.
“I think all things being equal, if she handles racing right-handed and handles the track conditions, she’s the horse to beat.”
At her only start in the anti-clockwise direction, Bonneval was pulled out of the Eight Carat Classic at Trentham in December with rider Opie Bosson telling stewards the filly had hung throughout.
“She got her head in the air and he thought something was amiss and he pulled her out of the race,” Forsman said.
“But she pulled up fine and we couldn’t really figure out what went on. She drew an outside barrier and sort of ran away from the other horses.
“It was just a real head scratcher. We had to take her back to the trials and make sure everything was all right, which it was, but she hasn’t raced right handed since so that’s obviously why we’re a bit concerned about it.”
Forsman said the filly seemed fine galloping in that direction in trackwork but the real test would be under race pressure.
The filly is untried on ground worse than soft.
Leading Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman has the ride and will gallop Bonneval for the first time on Tuesday morning at Warwick Farm.
Bowman has won three ATC Oaks, twice on New Zealand fillies, Daffodil (2009) and Sofia Rosa (2016), as well as Streama in 2012.