It was stakes victory No20 for the season for the Baker/Forsman stable when Jon Snow gritted his way to a A$2 million Australian Derby victory at Randwick on Saturday and don't stop counting yet.

It could be No21 when outstanding staying filly Bonneval takes on the Australian Oaks at Randwick this Saturday.

Sydney's Oaks is a tough staying test for fillies, but Bonneval is dour and is unbeaten in her three runs beyond 1600m, the Sir Tristram Fillies Classic, Lowland Stakes and Trentham's Wellfield Oaks.

But, and on the surface it's a large but, she is unproven on Randwick's right-handed way of racing.


The talented filly's only attempt racing that way was in Ellerslie's Eight Carat Classic, which ended disastrously when Opie Bosson pulled her up after hanging very badly.

"I'm not too worried," says Murray Baker. "Since then she's worked right-handed and trialled that way and seems fine." Hugh Bowman, who can do no wrong, has been engaged for Bonneval.

As remarkable as 20 stakes winners so far for the season might be, Baker's seven Derby victories is an even more remarkable stat.

"I won my first when Sir Vigilant won the Wellington Derby (1985), when it was a group two race."

Since then the Cambridge trainer has won the New Zealand Derby with Mongolian Khan, the Australian Derby with Nom Du Jeu (2008), It's A Dundeel (2013), Mongolian Khan (2015) and Jon Snow and he took the Victoria Derby with Lion Tamer in 2010.

Horses can fool you in the area of development and Jon Snow, currently a very upright type, may remain relatively lightly framed without bulking out. But there is no doubt he has strengthened, even if essentially internally.

"We've noticed him getting stronger lately," says Baker. "What helps him is he's such a lovely relaxed type. You could put your grandkids on him and ride him around the box, which is remarkable for a colt."

Jon Snow's Melbourne-based rider on Saturday, Perth born Damian Lane, rode beautifully staying perfectly relaxed until it mattered.

"I'd been watching this kid in Melbourne for some time and a while back I knew he would suit Jon Snow and was always going to get him to ride the horse if he went to Australia," said Baker.

"Have a look at his record. For one who is not rated as a superstar jockey, his record in big races is remarkable." Jon Snow looks the perfect type for major Australian staying races in the next two seasons. "He's got a lot of upside, he's a great grandson of a great mare in Solveig."

Facing Bonneval on Saturday will be fellow Cambridge filly Devise, who finished a gallant second to her in the Wellfield Guineas. Trainer Shaune Ritchie is not super confident of turning around the Trentham result.

"We couldn't beat her at Trentham and the Baker/Forsman horses find two more lengths when they get on a plane. Bonneval is a great staying mare and our best chance would be in a sit and sprint race, but this race is rarely run like that."

As Ritchie points out, even a placing in an Australian group one like the Oaks is an extremely valuable asset for a filly heading for stud.