Oscar Bonavena back on track
By Jonny Turner
Forgotten trotter Oscar Bonavena showed he was on track for a late Harness Jewels tilt when making his first public appearance since December, earlier this week.
The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained squaregaiter signalled he was ready to start banking money to qualify for three-year-old trotting section of June’s signature race day with a solid second placing behind his stablemate, Winterfell, at Tuesday’s Ashburton trials.
The highly talented Oscar Bonavena had not stepped foot on a racetrack since producing a big performance to run second to Majestic One at Alexandra Park at the Auckland Cup meeting on New Years Eve.
Since then, the All Stars stable sought veterinary advice from overseas after the three-year-old had developed a rare injury – a cyst on one of his knees.
Though some media outlets had speculated that the injury could mean Oscar Bonavena’s season and even his career could be over, Purdon said there has been no clear path forward for the horse since he developed the problem.
“The vets didn’t say that turning him out was the answer to it.”
“I think it was one of those things where there is no rhyme or reason why one horse gets it and another horse doesn’t or why one responds to treatment and some don’t.”
“They didn’t necessarily say give him four or six months off and he would be right.”
That scenario meant that Oscar Bonavena was kept in light work at the All Stars stable while his injury was monitored.
“I have got a resistance trainer and he just did a little bit of work in each day.”
“Then he did a little bit of jogging and a little bit of straight track work.”
“We just mixed it up a bit and he seemed to come sound.”
This week the time was right for the Majestic Son trotter to hit the trials track. Purdon said he was pleasantly surprised by the feel Oscar Bonavena gave him in the sulky.
“I was rapt with him, he trotted great and he felt good and he was more forward than I thought he was.”
Purdon said he would assess how Oscar Bonavena comes through his trial before deciding whether he needs another one or he goes to a race.
Oscar Bonavena’s $14,100 in stake earnings this season has him in 17th placing on the Harness Jewels leader board for three-year-old trotters.
Full Noise currently holds the 12th and final qualifying spot with $18,680.
Friday night’s group 1 Northern Trotting Derby will have an impact on those rankings, but it will be minimal if the race is dominated by the favourites.
Lotamuscle, who sits atop of the leader board will square off with the fourth ranked, Enhance Your Calm, in the 2700m feature.