Charmont earns Group One bid

Charmont (Danielle Johnson) cruising to victory at Trentham.

Charmont (Danielle Johnson) cruising to victory at Trentham.

Cambridge mare Charmont is back on the Group One trail 12 months after her first tilt at the top level.

The daughter of High Chaparral was one of the top three-year-old fillies last season and after a maiden win at Te Rapa and four subsequent Group placings, including thirds at Group Two level in the NZ Bloodstock Royal Stakes and Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic, she stepped up to Group One in the Wellfield NZ Oaks and finished a sound third to Savaria and Platinum Witness.

Charmont ended last season with a third in the Gr. 3 Higgins Manawatu Classic and started the current term with a close third at Ellerslie last November. That latter effort earned her Group Two starts in the Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes and Cal Isuzu Stakes, but she finished near the tailenders in both races.

Trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman then backed off Charmont and freshened her and she showed she was back on the right track when winning at the Matamata trials before a handy fifth fresh-up at Ellerslie.

Charmont bounced back to top form at Trentham last Saturday when beating Caramac in the Direct Fish & Oysters Premier (1400m) to earn her a tilt at the Gr. 1 $200,000 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha on April 9.

“She’s a quality horse and we have had a few setbacks with her as a four-year-old but I think we are over them now,” said Forsman. “We can head on with a bit of confidence to fillies and mares races of a mile and beyond.

“It (the Breeders Stakes) is a race we can have a crack at and even if she can’t win but runs a place it’s very important for her CV.”

The Baker –Forsman stable also struck in the first race at Te Rapa with the very promising Okanagan, while stablemate Luna Rossa had a change of luck when winning the Premier at Trentham.

Luna Rossa had been placed in her first two starts then finished an unlucky fifth behind Gold Rush in the Gr. 2 J. Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders Stakes after being held up in the run home.

There was no change of the same bad luck happening last Saturday as Luna Rossa was trapped three-wide and was widest on the home turn. She unleashed a strong finish to grab the honours by a short head.

Rider Matt Cameron predicts a bright future for the daughter of Written Tycoon (who later in the day produced Capitalist to win the Golden Slipper in Sydney.

“The horse is going to be better as a three-year-old,” he said. “She’s got a bit of growing to do but she has got a bit of class as a two-year-old, too.”