Bonneval shows Oaks class

Bonneval (Matt Cameron) stretches her head out to grab Savvy Dreams on the line to win the Lowland Stakes with Devise third.

Bonneval (Matt Cameron) stretches her head out to grab Savvy Dreams on the line to win the Lowland Stakes with Devise third.

Cambridge filly Bonneval earned outright favouritism for the Gr.1 Wellfield NZ Oaks at Trentham with a barnstorming win at Hastings today.

The Makfi filly went into today’s Gr.3 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes as one of the main chances for the Oaks and came out as the horse they will all have to beat in the 2400-metre classic on March 18.

She was successful in her first test over ground in the Gr.2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa when outgunning stablemate Nicoletta, but her performance today took her to a new level.

After being second-last, she was improved wide by rider Matt Cameron from the 700 metres and was within striking range on the home turn, but then the three leaders kicked and she was left standing them up several lengths with 200 to run.

With Cameron hard at work, Bonneval levelled out and, with her head down, she stormed home inside the last 100 metres to get up on the line to beat Savvy Dreams by a head.

“She switched off out the back then when they wanted to slacken off the speed around the back she went forward,” said co-trainer Andrew Forsman. “She still had a lot to do the last 100 so it was a very good effort.

“It’s just what you want to see from an Oaks filly.”

Devise, from Shaune Ritchie’s stable, fought bravely to finish third, three-quarters of a length behind Savvy Dreams, while the winner’s stablemate, Nicoletta, held on gamely for fourth, a length away.

“She (Nicoletta) was left in front a long way out. It was a tough effort,” said Forsman.

Bonneval has now won three of her six starts and been a dual Group winner and Group Three placed when third behind Nicoletta and Devise in the Wellfield Desert Gold Stakes (1600m). But it has been far from plain-sailing with the smart staying filly.

She won her debut over 1300 metres at Hastings 11 months ago then finished fifth at Te Rapa last December when resuming before disaster struck in her third start, the Gr.2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

She tailed off and was never hitting out, causing rider Opie Bosson to pull her up. Bosson said she hung throughout.

Forsman made mention of the setback after today’s win.

“It’s great to get her back from the start of the pre when things weren’t going right,” said Forsman. “It’s credit to all the staff at home.”

Bonneval had to trial after the Eight Carat failure and she did so at Cambridge on January 10 when a close second behind Derby-bound stablemate Highlad. From then on she has continued to improve, also benefitting from the step up to more staying tests.