Trainer Murray Baker is not expecting too much from Group 1 winner Bonneval when she returns to racing in Saturday’s Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at The Valley.
Baker has underlined the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) as the hopeful campaign target for Bonneval this time in, who was a standout for the leading Kiwi horseman in autumn; posting wins in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) most notably.
Pleased with the mare’s look around The Valley course on Tuesday morning, Baker told Racing Victoria that he is not expecting to see much from Bonneval when she takes her position in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes field, but believes a soft track could bring her right into contention.
“She’s come out of a New Zealand winter, and it’s pretty tough,” Baker said.
“We’ve had the wettest winter for years and years, it’s hard on horses.
“Pleased to be over here on some good tracks.
“She should start to improve with some good weather, and change of environment. Should be on the up at this stage (towards the Caulfield Cup).
“She’s a staying type and will probably get out-paced a bit [on Saturday] I’d say, unless there’s a bit of rain that slows them a bit.”
Bonneval resumed from a brief freshen-up for third in the Group 3 Wellfield Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) on January 28th, before returning to winning form in the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) a fortnight later.
Repeating that effort and result in the Group 3 Lowland Stakes (2100m) on March 2nd, the Makfi mare was caught wide and off pace in transit in the New Zealand Oaks, but stamped her dominance with a big turn of foot to win the race; her first at the highest level.
With the notable advantage of Hugh Bowman in the saddle, Bonneval enjoyed an ideal run in transit in the Australian Oaks and never appeared in doubt; extending in the final straight to win the race by close to five lengths.
The 2017 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.
Bonneval is currently available at Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes odds of $6.50 at Ladbrokes.com.au.