Bonniegirl showing a bit of “xcellence”

Bonniegirl (Michael Coleman) scoring a strong first-up win at Te Aroha yesterday.

Bonniegirl (Michael Coleman) scoring a strong first-up win at Te Aroha yesterday.

Ian McCarrison has been racing horses for more than 35 years so he knows it’s a game of patience and that is the quality he has shown with his promising Cambridge mare Bonniegirl.

Though Bonniegirl is now rising five, the daughter of Darci Brahma has had just nine starts with trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman being very patient with her despite showing immediate talent as a late two-year-old.

Bonniegirl took her record to four wins and two seconds with a strong-finishing effort to win the Pyramid Trucking 1200 at Te Aroha yesterday. On a day on which the pattern favoured on-pace runners, she was the only winner to come from so far back in the field turning for home so there was added merit in her performance.

Ridden by Michael Coleman, she scored by a neck from the Taranaki visitor Airlie House and ran the 1200 metres in a swift 1:9.42.

It was her first race since she finished fifth behind Kisses in the Gr. 3 Rich Hill Stud Taranaki Breeders Stakes at Hawera last October, but she showed she would be competitive when finishing second in a Matamata trial last month.

“She’s a pretty good mare,” said Forsman. “She came to the end of it the last bit but she had to cover a bit of ground. We’ll look for a black-type race for her now.”

Bonniegirl won both her trials as a late two-year-old and took that form through to her raceday debut at Taupo in August 2014 which she won with an impressive late charge. She then finished fifth in the Gr. 3 Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings, won well at Matamata and finished second to the talented Hula Eagle at Ellerslie before tailing the field home in the Gr. 1 NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas at Riccarton.

“She pulled up sore behind after the 1000 Guineas and the same happened to our other filly, Matakana, in that race,” said Forsman. “It took a while to get her right again.”

Bonniegirl got back to the races nine months after the 1000 Guineas and won at Taupo, providing stable apprentice Emma Smith with her first win. She then had a couple more runs last campaign, finishing second at Te Rapa and fifth at Ellerslie before again being put aside.

Bonniegirl was bought on McCarrison’s behalf by Baker at the 2013 Select Yearling Sales at Karaka for $85,000 and is a half-sister to the Gr. 3 Mr Tiz Trophy winner So Wotif and closely related to the Gr. 1 Doomben Cup winner Mr Bureaucrat.

McCarrison, a retired Wellington businessman, has enjoyed many thrills as an owner, particularly with the great galloper Xcellent, and though he knows Bonniegirl won’t reach the heights of Xcellent, he can expect her to add to her fine record.

Xcellent won eight of his 13 starts and made his mark on both sides of the Tasman. On the homefront he won four Group One races – the 2004 Mercedes NZ Derby, Darley Stakes, Mudgway Stakes and Kelt Capital Stakes – while his four starts in Australia included a third in the 2005 Melbourne Cup won by Makybe Diva.

He was beaten just once in nine starts in New Zealand and that defeat came in the 2007 Gr. 1 Zabeel Classic when he went down narrowly to the iron horse Sir Slick.

McCarrison was part of a group of owners which raced Xcellent, but he has also had his share of success as an outright owner with one of his former stars being Shariat’s On Fire, who won five races including an open staying race at Hastings when beating the 2007 New Zealand Cup winner Everswindell.

The 2008 Trentham Stakes was the last race for Xcellent, as he broke down when winning the event, and, ironically, it also marked the final racetrack appearance of Everswindell, who went amiss when finishing third.