Oscar Bonavena to miss most of next season

By Michael Guerin

New Zealand’s brightest trotting star is set to miss much of next season.

Oscar Bonavena, the little four-year-old who looked set to rule Australasian trotting until nothing went right for him in its biggest races, has had an operation and will spend the next six months in the paddock.

Co-trainer Mark Purdon said the speed machine needed an operation on a knee and then six months in the paddock, so he won’t even be back in training until almost the New Year.

That would make races like the NZ Trotting Champs and Rowe Cup perhaps the best his connections can hope for as targets next season, with all the summer features gone.

“It is a real shame but the prognosis after the operation is good so we will just have to be patient,” says Purdon.

The setback comes after a season that promised so much for Oscar Bonavena but on hype would be rated good without being great at the highest level.

He was so stunning early in the season he looked to have too much speed for the open class trotters once he got to that grade but he had a series of things go against him.

Checked into a gallop as a red hot favourite in the Dominion, he missed the Inter Dominions and was then beaten by that series winner Winterfell in the National Trot after being forced to sit parked.

He also raced below his absolute best in Australia and looked like a horse who needed a hard open class campaign to learn the ropes of being a Grand Circuit trotter.

But that will now have to wait, although at least being a trotter he has plenty of racing seasons ahead should be stay sound.

Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen have a pretty handy open class trotting star as a replacement, even though that term is almost an insult to Winterfell after he returned to his best last summer and looks certain to be named Trotter of the Year.

He is not far off the trials along with Enhance Your Calm while the All Stars could have Self Assured, Ashley Locaz, Another Masterpiece and One Change back at the trials next Tuesday. Spankem is still a little further off trialing.

“If the weather improves this week and we can get enough work into them they might trial next week.”
With open class racing still a while away missing a trial wouldn’t bother most of the All Stars elite but it is more important for One Change.

The standout three-year-old could still head to Queensland for the winter carnival there, including the Queensland Derby. If he does go One Change would join Rasmussen’s sister Vicki as caretaker trainer.

“We are not sure but the Queensland thing is looking a likely option and if he goes One Change might even stay over there until the end of the year and potentially go to Perth for their four-year-old races.”

The All Stars actually took their first big team to the trials post-lock down at Ashburton yesterday and the results would have heartened some of their rivals as quite unexpectedly they only won one of the five trials they contested, Wanna Play With Me taking out the small two-year-old trot heat.

“We only took them there for quiet runs,” explains Purdon.

“The team was coming up really nicely two weeks ago and then the bad weather struck so they went backwards a little.

“With that in mind we were happy to give them quite trials and most of them will go again next week.

“And then will start to decide where some of them go. We are still keen to send a number up to Alexandra Park early to take in some maiden races if the stakes bounce back there.

“So once we get that confirmed we will start working that out because we have a lot of rising three-year-olds coming up.”

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