Record-setting trainer Murray Baker is marshalling his most formidable troops for an all-out spring assault in Melbourne.
The Cambridge, New Zealand, horseman posted his 20th G1 victory across the Tasman – more than any other New Zealand-based trainer – in the autumn when Bonneval coasted away with the Australian Oaks.
And now, Makfi’s powerhouse daughter is one of three G1-winning contenders Baker has in line to contest the Caulfield Cup on October 21.
Jon Snow (Australian Derby) and Lizzie l’Amour (New Zealand Stakes) are also in the mix, and an outstanding stable foursome is completed by the G3 Ethereal Stakes winner and G1 VRC Oaks placegetter Eleonora.
“Eleonora’s only had the ten starts, won three and missed a place only once and that was when she got held up badly,” said Baker, whose training partnership with Andrew Forsman is currently world-ranked 53 and top in New Zealand.
“It’s just all about keeping them sound and happy until they get on that plane later on in August. They will all be looking at the Caulfield Cup and Lizzie l’Amour could run in some fillies and mares’ races on the way through.
“There’s also the [New Zealand Bloodstock] Memsie Stakes for them to kick off or the weight-for-age mile [G1 Makybe Diva Stakes] a week later at Flemington.”
An outstanding 3-year-old campaign will see Bonneval chasing her fifth consecutive win when she resumes.
“She’s very good and she’s got to be a big chance to get the Horse of the Year,” Baker said. “She won two Oaks and at Randwick she was just outstanding – you wouldn’t have given her a chance 500 metres from home and yet she won by four and a half lengths.”
History also tells him that Jon Snow, a son of Iffraaj, has the right credentials to succeed in the spring.
“Australian Derby form usually works out well in Melbourne,” Baker said. “Nom du Jeu won in Sydney and ran second in the Caulfield Cup, Dundeel was the leading 4-year-old at weight-for-age and Mongolian Khan won the Caulfield Cup.
“Jon Snow’s form here was also very good. He was third in three big races and he’s a big, powerful horse now. He’s developed a lot with a spell.”
Baker’s travelling party will be completed by the rising 3-year-old Weather With You, who placed in two of his three starts this season including a runner-up finish in the listed Champagne Stakes.