Australian Oaks winner Bonneval has made an immediate impression in her spring return, winning an action-packed Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley.
There was drama at the start of Saturday’s 1600m race when $4.40 favourite Star Exhibit reared up as the barriers opened, losing his rider Mark Zahra.
Bonneval was one of two Group One winners from the New Zealand stable of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman beginning their Melbourne campaigns in the race.
And while Bonneval showed her class to storm to a first-up win under jockey Damian Lane, her stablemate Lizzie L’Amour dropped out of contention before the home turn and finished 27 lengths away in seventh.
A post-race veterinary examination showed Lizzie L’Amour had suffered atrial fibrillation.
Bonneval ($5) beat Abbey Marie ($12) by a neck with four lengths to Rhythm To Spare ($16) third.
The manner in which Bonneval was able to win the weight-for-age race first-up surprised Baker.
“I thought the other horse (Lizzie L’Amour) would beat her home,” Baker said.
“But obviously there’s something that happened in the run (to Lizzie L’Amour).”
“Bonneval is a good filly though.
“She’s probably fitter than I thought she was. 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.
“Lizzie L’Amour easily beat her in a trial and we thought if she could be running on for fifth or sixth we’ll be happy.
“But she’s got that electric sprint at the finish.”
Baker said Bonneval was targeting the Caulfield Cup for which she is now second favourite.
The winner of the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes earns a ballot exemption into the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley but Baker indicated that was not in his thoughts.
“Not unless Winx drops out,” he said.
“That’s a pretty obvious one.”
Lane said Bonneval had improvement with Abbey Marie’s jockey Luke Nolen saying likewise about the runner-up.