Baker, Forsman and Cameron strike again as Bonneval claims Oaks Sat, 18 Mar 2017

Richard Edmunds
Bonneval (Matt Cameron) completes a flawless campaign with victory in the New Zealand Oaks.
Bonneval (Matt Cameron) completes a flawless campaign with victory in the New Zealand Oaks.
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Murray Baker, Andrew Forsman and Matt Cameron joined forces for a second Group One victory in the last three days when Bonneval completed a flawless autumn campaign with Gr. 1 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks glory at Trentham this afternoon.

Cameron also rode the Baker and Forsman-trained Lizzie L’Amour to win Thursday’s Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie.

But while the Ellerslie Group One was a double-digits upset, Bonneval came into today’s $300,000 New Zealand Oaks with a six-week stranglehold on the fillies’ classic. Impressive back-to-back victories in the Gr. 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic at Te Rapa and the Gr. 3 Lowland Stakes at Hastings set her up as the $2.80 favourite, and she impressively lived up to those big expectations this afternoon.

There were some nervous moments, with Bonneval a distant 13th in the 16-horse field as they turned into the back straight. But Cameron seized the initiative when the pace slackened halfway through the race and began to creep forward into striking distance.

At the 600-metre mark Cameron and Bonneval went for gold, swooping around the field and striding to the lead in a sustained run. Perennial placegetter Devise fought back outstandingly well on the inside, turning the race into a desperate two-horse battle down the straight, but Bonneval steadily got the upper hand. She crossed the finish line half a length ahead of her worthy adversary Devise, with Savvy Dreams another two and a half lengths away in third.

“The first time past the post I thought, ‘Shit, we’re a long way back,’ but the speed was genuine,” Cameron said. “They buttoned off a bit about the 1200, then got slower and slower from the 800 to the top of the straight. I decided to go forward and really put my head in.

“She’s a class filly. She pricked her ears a bit when she got to the front. The other filly came back at her really well, but I think my horse always had the upper hand. Her last few wins have all been by a small margin, but she always gets up.”

The win earned Bonneval another 12 points in the Filly of the Year Series, pushing her to 27.5 and an easy series victory.

Bonneval has had seven starts for four wins, a placing and more than $300,000 in stakes for owners Terry Jarvis, Alister Lawrence and John Rattray.

“She’s a beautiful filly,” Forsman said. “She was a standout when Murray and the guys bought her at the sales and she’s gone on with it.

“She got a long way back today but they were going quick enough early on. Matt got her rolling and rode her like the best filly in the race.

“She doesn’t necessarily need to do any more this preparation, we’ll just get her home and see how she is. She’s only going to get better as an older mare.”

Bonneval is a daughter of former Westbury Stud shuttler Makfi, going one better after fellow Makfi filly Sofia Rosa was relegated to second behind Fanatic last year.

Bred by Peter Newsom, Mac Whitehouse and Tony Wales’s City Bloodstock, the Oaks winner is out of Imposingly, who has produced six winners from six foals to race including four at Group level. But Bonneval has now done what Imposing Lass, Full Of Spirit and Lady Cumquat have not – winning at Group One level.

History repeated with the runner-up performance by Devise, exactly the same position as her half-sister Zurella filled in 2012.

The race was marred by a nasty fall at the 600-metre mark, where both Incantesimo and Rube Bridges came down. Fortunately both horses and their riders – Michael McNab and Danielle Johnson – escaped serious injury.