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Deserved Group One breakthrough for Bonny Lass

3 minute read

One of the unluckiest horses in the top echelon of New Zealand racing in recent times, Bonny Lass turned things around with a supreme front-running performance in Saturday’s Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1200m) at Te Rapa.

BONNY LASS winning the BCD GROUP SPRINT
BONNY LASS winning the BCD GROUP SPRINT Picture: Race Images Photo

The $400,000 weight-for-age feature was the first Group One victory for the Super Easy mare, whose long run of misfortune dates back to a raceday scratching from the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) on New Year's Day last year.

She returned for another shot at that race a year later and was knocked sideways in the straight, recovering admirably and building back her momentum to surge into second behind Waitak.

The Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham brought more of the same, with Bonny Lass  finding herself awkwardly positioned behind a slow pace in a rough-run race. She had to switch across the heels of eventual winner Mercurial, only getting into the clear halfway down the straight and working through her gears to dash into third.

BONNY LASS and connections
BONNY LASS and connections Picture: Race Images Photo

On Saturday the luckless Lass had a deserved change of fortune. Overlooked at $17 odds in a field headed by undefeated three-year-old Crocetti and four other Group One winners, Bonny Lass dominated from the moment the gates opened.

The five-year-old was driven from her outside barrier by jockey Craig Grylls and soon found the lead, and that was where she stayed.

Crocetti sat in second throughout the race and lodged his claim in the straight, eating into the margin with big strides, but Bonny Lass rose to meet his challenge. She pinned her ears back and fought for all she was worth, clinging on to win by a long head.

"The plan was to be positive from the outside gate," Grylls said. "She jumped better than anything else, and there didn't seem to be a real torrent of speed. I thought I'd take it up, and I had a pretty soft lead. I felt like I was getting it easy enough, and we all know how game she is.

"She travelled well until close to the 200m, and then I went for her and she had a good kick. I could hear Crocetti coming, but she's just so determined and kept fighting him off. She deserved that.

"This is very satisfying. I've ridden her in most of her starts, right from when she was a two-year-old. She's such an honest wee girl, and this just tops it all."

Bonny Lass was bred by Sandy Moore, who shares ownership with Brent and Wendy Cooper and the Social Racing Starting Gates Syndicate. She is trained by Graham Richardson and Rogan Norvall at Matamata.

Bonny Lass has won seven of her 19 starts, placing in another eight and earning $655,900. Her previous black-type wins came in the Gr.2 Matamata Breeders' Stakes (1200m), Gr.3 Cambridge Breeders' Stakes (1200m) and Gr.3 Sweynesse Stakes (1215m), and she had been a four-time Group One placegetter in the Railway, Telegraph, Sistema Stakes (1200m) and Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m).

"Wow, I'm speechless," said Richardson, who added that Bonny Lass might race in Melbourne later this season.

"What a brave ride. It was the right tactic. He dug her out and she just did it all for us. She really deserves this, and so do the owners.

"In my opinion, no horse in the country deserves to win a Group One more than her. She's been amazing."

Moore bred Bonny Lass out of his Le Bec Fin mare Posh Bec, who herself won three races and placed at Listed level.

"This is a huge thrill," he said. "For her to race against such a strong field and hold them all out was incredible.

"I bred this horse and she started out worth about $7,000, and now she's won more than half a million. She's been so unlucky in so many races along the way, so I'm absolutely over the moon with this result."

Those sentiments were echoed by part-owner and syndicate manager Brent Cooper.

"I've been racing horses for over 30 years now and this is my first Group One," he said. "She's just the toughest, bravest, most beautiful horse I've had anything to do with. She gives her best every single time. You couldn't want a better horse to syndicate.

"She just demonstrates that no matter what level of involvement you have, you can be a part of things like this. There's a great group of owners involved in this horse who really deserve it, Graham Richardson and Rogan Norvall deserve it, and most of all Bonny Lass deserves it. She's an absolute rock star."

Crocetti's second placing brought an end to his unbeaten record, which had previously stood at seven starts for seven wins including the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).

Co-trainer Danny Walker commented that his first taste of defeat could not have come at the hands of a better group of people, while owner-breeder Daniel Nakhle was also far from disappointed.

"He's done us proud," he said. "Bonny Lass and her connections really deserve that. She's been so unlucky in a number of races all the way through. We don't have any excuses today and we're happy with his performance." 


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