Kiwi superstar Bonneval has become the most wanted lady in racing.
The recently-crowned Horse of the Year burst to the head of Caulfield Cup markets by clearly outshining Hartnell in the A$815,000 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield last night (NZ time), giving trainer Murray Baker his fourth win in the race, this time with trainer partner Andrew Forsman.
That was enough to make her the New Zealand TAB's $5 favourite for the Cup on October 21 although many Australian bookies still have her equal top pick with former Kiwi galloper Humidor.
But Bonneval is going to need a new jockey for the Caulfield Cup, with yesterday's winning jock Hugh Bowman unable to ride her at the luxury 52.5kgs weight in three weeks.
That leaves Baker and Forsman set to take calls from every prominent lightweight jockey in Australia before they fill the Caulfield Cup hot seat.
"Obviously that decision hasn't been made yet but I don't think we will be short of offers," said Forsman.
While a jockey for the four-year-old mare is up in the air, so too is her exact pathway to the Cup.
Before yesterday it was expected Bonneval may join stablemates Jon Snow and Lizzie L'amour in the Caulfield Stakes a week before the Cup and while that is still possible so too is heading straight into the big dance.
All going well she will give New Zealand it's strongest Caulfield Cup presence in years, with Jon Snow back to his best form in the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley on Friday night while NZ Derby winner Gingernuts is Cup-bound after this Saturday's Livamol Classic at Hastings.
Lizzie L'amour may need to run a big race at Caulfield on October 14 to sneak into he Cup after a dreadfully luckless performance in the Stocks Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday when she was pushed back to last before roaring home.
Bowman rode her on that occasion but made up for his off night with a lovely tactical ride yesterday, getting Bonneval handy early and most importantly in front of Hartnell, who surprisingly went back at the start of the 1800m group one.
Bonneval came off the bit at the 600 but once Bowman got busy she ground into her work and won going away.
"She can do that a bit, which is why the extra 600m of the Cup looks ideal for her," said Forsman.
"And dropping to 52.5kgs is also a huge help. Maybe Caulfield isn't her best track and the Cup can be a tough race if you have to come wide in an 18-horse field but that is where the weight helps."
Bonneval has now won her last six starts, all at group level, and with the advantage of being able to handle any track conditions she looks perfectly set up for a special spring.
She wasn't the only northern galloper to impress at Caulfield yesterday as Matamata three-year-old Summer Passage sealed his spot in the Caulfield Guineas on October 14 with a brave second in the prelude.
The O'Sullivan-Scott-trained colt showed the expected improvement from his fresh up run at Flemington and his ability to run on the speed suggests he is a serious Guineas player at a time when some of the more hyped Australian three-year-olds are have questioned raised over where they are at.
• Bonneval crushes her Australian rivals in the A$815,000 Underwood Stakes.
• She is now equal favourite for the Caulfield Cup on October 21.
• She will need a new rider for the Cup because of her 52.5kgs weight.
• New Zealand looks to have its strongest Caulfield Cup assault in a decade.