The mare Bonneval has become New Zealand’s Horse of the Year for the second year running. She defended the title she won last year, as a 3-year-old, when taking the premier prize at the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, in Auckland on Sunday
She is the fifth successive Horse of the Year winner trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman (currently world-ranked 29). The record-breaking training partnership prepared the 2014 winner Dundeel, who was followed by Mongolian Khan (2015 and 2016) and Bonneval.
The Horse of the Year Award was introduced in 1971 and Bonneval is the eighth horse to have earned the title more than once. The other multiple winners have been Sunline (four times), Show Gate, Rough Habit, Xcellent, Seachange, Mufhasa and Mongolian Khan.
Bonneval was also voted the champion middle distance performer for the 2017-18 season and the Baker and Forsman partnership was named Trainer of the Year. Kawi (sprinter-miler), Avantage (2-year-old), Savvy Coup (3-year-old), Charles Road (stayer) and Wise Men Say (jumper) were the winners of the other horse categories.
Premiership winner Samantha Collett was voted Jockey of the Year and Isaac Lupton was named Jumps Jockey of the Year, for the third time.
The prestigious New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Contribution to Racing Award went to prominent breeder Nelson Schick, who has been the driving force behind Windsor Park Stud. Schick has devoted a lifetime to the Thoroughbred breeding industry and developed Windsor Park into a brand that was recognised around the world.
The stallions who have stood at Windsor Park include Star Way,Volksraad, Thorn Park, Kaapstad, High Chaparral and Montjeu, and the stud’s breeding credits include the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup winner Might And Power and Aerovelocity, a GI winner in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Bonneval dominated the voting in the middle-distance category and received almost two-thirds of the votes for Horse of the Year. The mare, who trialled at Taupo last Wednesday, had only four starts in her 4-year-old season but was the standout Kiwi performer at the Melbourne spring carnival.
She won the G2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley fresh-up and then beat the multiple G1 winners Hartnell and Gailo Chop in the G1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield. She finished sixth, behind Gailo Chop, in the Caulfield Stakes and was unplaced in the Caulfield Cup, when feeling the firm ground.
She returned to work in the autumn but suffered a suspensory ligament injury after two trials runs.
The daughter of Makfi was the only New Zealand-trained horse to win a Group 1 in Australia in the 2017-18 season and is scheduled to return to Melbourne this spring. She was a $150,000 yearling buy for owners Terry Jarvis, Alastair Lawrence and John Rattray and has earned $1.68 million in stakes, from just 12 starts.
Baker and Forsman, who won 146 races during the season, were unanimous winners of the Trainer of the Year award.
The partnership set new benchmarks for New Zealand trainers, with a record number of domestic wins and record stake earnings. Their 142 wins in New Zealand eclipsed their own record of 114 wins and their team earned more than NZ$4.7 million in stakes in New Zealand. It was first time any stable had topped $4 million in a season.
The Baker-Forsman partnership, which produced five individual G1 winners and won 24 black type races in total, also earned A$1,688m in stakes in Australia, bringing the total stake earnings for the season to more than NZ$6 million.
The tightest contest was for Owner of the Year. Wellington owner Lib Petagna, who races under the JML Bloodstock banner, was successful for the third successive year but was just two votes clear of Archer Equine Investments, the owners of Charles Road and Bostonian.
Petagna was a shareholder in 25 individual runners in New Zealand and almost a third were either black-type winners or group-placed. His team included Francaletta, Nicoletta, Maygrove, Sofia Rosa, Gundown, Marcellina, Peaceful and Santa Catarina.
Waikato Stud and stud patriarch Garry Chittick were named Breeder of the Year. It was the sixth time Chittick has earned the title. Waikato Stud, which has been owned by the Chittick family since 1993, bred Savvy Coup, Embellish and Hasahalo, who between them won three of the four G1 classics in New Zealand