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Bonneval back with Dato win
09 Sep 2017 | By James Tzaferis - racing.com 
Star Kiwi mare Bonneval showed she’s right on track for the Caulfield Cup (2400m) with a brilliant return victory in an incident-marred edition of the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on Saturday.

The dual Oaks winner surprised trainer co-trainer Murray Baker with her turn of speed first-up, powering to the line under Damian Lane to score by a long-neck over talented Mick Kent-trained mare Abbey Marie, with Rhythm To Spare four lengths adrift in third as Lane completed a treble after earlier wins on Ebediyin and Brave Smash.

The win came as Darren Weir’s Star Exhibit reared as the gates opened, unseating jockey Mark Zahra and continuing riderless throughout the race, while two other horses well-supported in the market – the winner’s stablemate Lizzie L’amour and import Sir Isaac Newton - faded badly at the 600m to finish almost 30 length behind their rivals.



Bonneval (NZ) and Damien Lane, picture Sportpix.com.au

“I was surprised because I thought the other horse would beat her home but obviously something happened in the run,” Baker said.

“She’s (Bonneval) probably fitter than I thought she was but it’s very hard to judge them when you come from New Zealand.

“It’s been the wettest winter for 40 years and we didn’t quite know where she was and Lizzie L’amour easily beat her in a trial at Taupo.

“We thought that if she could be running on for fifth of sixth we’d be happy but she’s got that electric sprint in the finish.”

Asked whether he’d consider a tilt at the Cox Plate (2040m) after securing ballot exemption with Saturday’s win – the first by a New Zealand-trained horse in the race since Sunline in 2000 - Baker said he was keen to avoid a clash with champion mare Winx and would sit down over the coming days to plot a path towards the Caulfield Cup.

“Not unless Winx drops out,” Baker said about a Cox Plate start.

“She’s targeting that Caulfield Cup but we’ll just wait to map out her next race.

“She’s a good filly, very honest, and she’s got a bit of that Zabeel in her because she’s tough and she kicks at the finish.”

Lizze L’amour and Sir Isaac Newton were both vetted after the race and found to be suffering from atrial fibrillation.

 
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