New Zealand's Melbourne Cup influence will become more apparent this weekend.
In Sydney, Stephen Marsh's Brisbane Cup (2200m) winner Chocante will lay his credentials on the table in Saturday's Gr.1 Metropolitan (2400m), while in Melbourne, Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman will produce Bonneval, Jon Snow and Lizzie L'Amour.
Dual Oaks winner Bonneval remains the best supported New Zealand-trained Cups entry and the last-start Gr.2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) winner continues her buildup in Sunday's Gr.1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield.
Baker has won the Underwood on three previous occasions, with The Phantom in 1990, Lion Tamer in 2011 and Dundeel in 2013 and while he would dearly love to win another this weekend, he knows it won't be easy against the likes of Hartnell and Black Heart Bart and with more lucrative spoils to come later in her campaign.
"I’m very happy with her. She's doing everything right," Baker said.
"She's healthy and fit and still on the up. It's a good field on Sunday but you can't dodge anything at this stage. You've just got to front up. I'm sure she'll run another honest race."
A winner of six of her nine starts, Makfi four-year-old mare Bonneval will have the services of Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman for the first time since her Gr.1 Australian Oaks demolition in April.
Sunday's race will lead in to the Gr.1 A$1 million Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 14, a week before the Gr.1 A$3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m), with the Gr.1 A$6.5 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington 17 days after that.
As to the Cups, Baker said of Bonneval: "She's right on target."
Baker and Forsman will get an earlier guide to their stable's Cup chances when Jon Snow and Lizzie L'Amour race at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Gr.1 Australian Derby winner Jon Snow tackles the Gr.3 JRA Cup (2040m), having finished sixth in the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and eighth in the Gr.1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) in his first two runs of the spring.
"He's working well but he's back to handicap racing and he's got to give a lot of weight away. Up in distance though, he should go well," Baker said.
"We just need to get up into that distance racing. He'll probably go to the Herbert Power [Gr.2 2400m at Caulfield on October 14] then the Caulfield Cup. He's already assured of a start in the Cup."
Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes winner Lizzie L'Amour, however, sits further down the Caulfield Cup entry order and is likely to need to win either of her next two starts to jump up the order and secure a start.
"She's been going all right the whole way through. She had that fibrillation last start but she trialled at Flemington a week later and everything was fine," Baker said.
"She's as right as we can get her. She might be looking for a bit further than a mile. We just need to get her going but we're happy with her."
Baker rated favourite I Am A Star as the horse to beat in Friday's Gr.2 Stock Stakes (1600m) but expected Lizzie L'Amour to run a bold race.
"She's working well and she's a good class mare," he said.
"She's going to have to do things right to get in the Cups but there are plenty of suitable races for her at this carnival - mares races, weight-for-age races and at distances she likes." - NZ Racing Desk
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