An Australian Oaks win to favourite Bonneval would cap a memorable campaign for the New Zealand filly and add to an already successful carnival in Sydney for her trainers.
Bonneval is the $3.80 favourite for Saturday’s $1 million Group One Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick, a week after her Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained stablemate Jon Snow claimed the $2 million Australian Derby.
Clarry Conners is the last trainer to win both the Derby and Oaks at Randwick in the same year, accomplishing the feat in 1989 with the champion filly Research.
Forsman acknowledges the queries for Bonneval are racing right-handed and on rain-affected ground but he has no doubts about her class on the back of three-straight Group race wins.
“She’s very good,” Forsman said.
Bonneval’s Group One NZ Oaks (2400m) win on March 18 clinched her the NZ Filly of the Year title and brought the Australian Oaks into focus.
“Really the main thing was to try to win Filly of the Year and the (NZ) Oaks,” Forsman said.
“They were her autumn targets and I guess this would be the icing on the cake.
“We thought it looked like the race was dropping away a bit so we thought it was worth taking her over and having a go.”
The NZ Filly of the Year title is based on a pointscore across a series of 10 races culminating in the NZ Oaks, with Bonneval finishing on 27.5 points, almost double her nearest rival Volpe Veloce (14).
Jon Snow gave Baker his fourth Australian Derby win in the past decade, and Forsman his first, but neither has won the Australian Oaks.
Stablemate Saracino also made the trip across the Tasman last week to run in Saturday’s Group Two Arrowfield Sprint (1200m).
Saracino won the Group Two Danehill Stakes down the straight at Flemington in his first of four Melbourne starts last spring.
He returned to winning form for the first time since the Danehill in the Group Two Wellington Guineas (1400m) last start in New Zealand.
“He has come through his win at Trentham really well and he looks great,” Forsman said.
“He’s a bit of a query right-handed.
“His from that way around isn’t that flash and that was something we had to give good consideration to before taking him over.
“But we thought there was nothing really left for him to win in New Zealand. He’s won three Group Twos this season.
“That’s about his level and he’s a good galloper so I guess going that way is the only concern we’ve got with him.”