NEWS PREVIEW

Ratings expert favours mare

According to O’Sullivan, the daughter of Makfi ran to a peak rating of 104.5 in her Gr.1 Australian Oaks romp, placing her ahead of fellow Group One winners Gingernuts with a peak rating of 100 and Jon Snow at 99.
“There's no doubt in my mind that Bonneval is the superior horse based on exposed form,” O’Sullivan said.
“Her Australian Oaks win was a supreme staying performance, above the historical average of the race. It was a fast pace, higher pressure race which she relished, racing away to be a dominant winner in a fast time.
“Her New Zealand Oaks win demonstrated that she also has an excellent turn of foot and sustained sectional speed over 600-800m. From a staying perspective, she has all of the attributes needed to be a factor at the top-level.”
O’Sullivan believes Bonneval will be competitive in the spring with the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup her prime target.
“At four I can see Bonneval being thereabouts in the weight-for-age lead-up races over 1600-2000m, building nicely to another peak performance in the 1 1⁄2 m Caulfield Cup,” he said.
“I'd expect her to get around 52 to 117lbs in the Caulfield Cup and on her Oaks rating that weight will put her in the competitive zone, given the historical rating at the weights produced by the race winners and placegetters.”
A versatile runner, O’Sullivan believes the pace of the race would be irrelevant for Bonneval.
“If they go hard she's proven to have fast time and genuine staying talent. If the race is run more moderately she's also proven to have a fast-sustained sectional sprint of 600-800m,” he said.
“She also appeals to me as the type of filly that could make a little bit of further improvement in her ratings and that would make her a big threat in Group One handicaps and certainly able to compete with the European horses that might come to Australia under handicap conditions.”
Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup placegetter Hartnell is one of the likely topweights for the Caulfield Cup, but O’Sullivan believes the Kiwi mare can pose a threat to the Godolphin galloper.
“If Hartnell is being set for the race then he's likely to have 128lbs. At the weights, Hartnell would need to get back to his spring 2016 form to be a chance in the race and at that level, he and Bonneval would be closely matched.
“On Hartnell's autumn form Bonneval would be superior, however, on 2016 form he's the superior horse, but the difference in handicaps would bring them closer together.
“I'm looking forward to seeing her compete in the Melbourne spring.”
Meanwhile, O’Sullivan said New Zealand Derby and Rosehill Guineas hero Gingernuts would need to improve to compete at the highest level in Australia in the spring.
“He's yet to display the same level of talent as Bonneval either in terms of staying ability or turn of foot.
“Gingernuts raced on very heavy tracks in Sydney and won a solid pace, slogging Rosehill Guineas in good time by being the superior stayer at 1 1⁄4 m. He got too far back in a moderately run Australian Derby and was never a factor.
“He might be one that could make improvement, but he needs to increase sharply beyond his 100 peak in Australia as that mark won't cut it in Australia racing at the top level.”
O’Sullivan highlighted fellow New Zealand Derby winner Mongolian Khan as an example of a recent New Zealand horse to improve on their autumn form to excel in the spring.
“Mongolian Khan rated two lengths superior in the autumn at 103 and then improved a further two lengths into his four-year-old season to win the Caulfield Cup,” he said.
Australian Derby winner Jon Snow is another horse that will need to improve to be competitive in Australia, according to O’Sullivan.
“Jon Snow won a well below average rating Australian Derby with just a 99 rating. His prior win in the Tulloch Stakes was 97,” he said.
“Similar to Gingernuts, Jon Snow would need to make big improvement to be a player in the Melbourne spring, otherwise I can't see him being a factor in lead up races or the Caulfield Cup itself.”

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