Wow! What a team. Congrats to Baker and Forsman

Bonneval (Hugh Bowman) annihilating the opposition in today's Gr. 1 ATC Australian Oaks.

Bonneval (Hugh Bowman) annihilating the opposition in today’s Gr. 1 ATC Australian Oaks.

There has been a common cry from rival trainers when it comes to the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman big-race attacks.

“How can we beat them?” is the usual comment from trainers when assessing their chances against the top Cambridge stable’s charges, particularly in big races.

It’s a comment constantly repeated in the media and was driven home big-time today when the country’s leading stable struck Group One gold on both sides of the Tasman within quarter of an hour.

Charmont became the stable’s latest Group One winner on the home front when taking the Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Rapa, but that was soon eclipsed by the runaway win of Bonneval in the Gr.1 A$1 million Australian Oaks at Sydney to complete a trans-Tasman Oaks double.

What made the Oaks win even more notable was the fact it was Baker’s 20th Group One success in Australia, establishing him as New Zealand’s most successful trainer campaigning horses in Australia. He had previously shared the record with New Plymouth’s John Wheeler when Jon Snow won last Saturday’s Gr.1 Australian Derby.

It was also a major feat for Baker and Forsman to complete the Australian Derby – Oaks double. The last trainer to win the two races in the same year was Warwick Farm’s Clarry Connors with Research in 1989.

But Baker takes it all in his stride, even when he’s breaking records.

“It’s a big thrill,” Baker told the Australian media after Bonneval’s triumph. “I love coming to Australia. The racing’s fantastic and the stakes are good.”

Baker and Forsman have become such a dominant force, leading the NZ Trainers’ Premiership, and, incredibly, have picked up five Group One wins within the last month.

The ball started when Lizzie L’Amour captured the Bonecrusher NZ Stakes at Ellerslie on March 16, then continued when Bonneval took the Wellfield NZ Oaks at Trentham and Jon Snow followed up his NZ Derby third and Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes win with his ATC Australian Derby triumph leading into today’s Group One trans-Tasman double.

“It’s amazing to have a run like this,” said Forsman. “I guess you just have to make the most of it and enjoy it while it lasts because then you can also have times where nothing seems to go your way. When that’s happening, the harder you try, the worse things seem to get.

“This run of results has been a real credit to all of the great staff we’ve got at home.”

Bonneval left New Zealand with a hat trick of wins and a record of four wins from seven starts. She preceded her NZ Oaks win with victories in the Gr.2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic then the Gr.3 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes and she could not have been more impressive today.

Settled towards the tail-enders by Hugh Bowman, Bonneval always appeared to be travelling nicely, loping along well within herself. Then when Bowman asked her to make ground nearing the home turn she emerged as a serious threat, even though still standing up the leaders a big start.

Lasqueti Spirit had taken a clear lead, as she had done when winning the Gr.1 VRC Crown Oaks last November, and was joined by Perfect Rhyme soon after straightening. But then Bonneval started to lengthen stride down the outside and she simply outstayed the opposition, racing to the lead inside the last 150 metres and clearing out to score by four and a half lengths.

For Bowman, it was his fourth Australian Oaks win and he was quick to point out three of them have been on New Zealand fillies.

He won on the Kevin Gray-trained Daffodil in 2009 and on Sofia Rosa for Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh last year, while between times he scored on the Sydney filly Streama in 2012.

“This is very special for me,” said Bowman, who then came out a race later and continued his winning way on the amazing Winx in the Gr.1 A$4 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

“I think she’ll certainly make her presence felt in the springtime on that performance. She showed her true staying ability because it was a real test.

“She had a good 150 metres to make up on straightening and she had it made up with 100 metres to run.”

“I rode my first VRC Derby for Murray aboard Lion Tamer (in 2010) and it’s great to win another big one for him.”

A $150,000 Karaka purchase, Bonneval is a half-sister to the Group Three winners Full Of Spirit and Lady Cumquat with their dam, the Zabeel mare Imposingly, being a three-quarter sister to the Group One winners Champagne and St Reims.

The Makfi filly is raced by Terry Jarvis, Alister Lawrence and John Rattray. For Lawrence and Rattray it was their third Oaks win with Baker. The first came with Dowry in the 2004 South Australian Oaks.