Oscar Bonavena relying on other results
By Michael Guerin
One of the surprise favourites for the Harness Jewels could be forced out of the million-dollar meeting by a mere $10 in stake earnings.
Because the fate of three-year-old trotting favourite Oscar Bonavena now lies in his rival’s hands.
The exciting young trotter raced to the head of his market with a stunning comeback win against older horses at Addington last Friday night.
So crushing was the victory Oscar Bonavena replaced stablemate Enhance Your Calm as favourite for the $125,000 Three-Year-Old Ruby at Addington on June 1, being rated a $1.95 chance to Enhance Your Calm’s $2.10.
The only problem is Oscar Bonavena isn’t guaranteed a Jewels start and could be knocked out of contention this weekend, with the final day for Jewels qualification being Sunday.
He sits 10th on the stakes-based entry table but there are only 11 New Zealand-trained invites to each Jewels race if an Australian is invited to that division.
The connection of Victorian trotter All Cashed Up have accepted an invite so there will only be 11 spots for locals and that is where things get tricky for Oscar Bonavena.
He is not racing this week and sits on $24,700 in stakes but Southland trotter Full Noise only needs $530 to get past him which he should achieve with a third placing or better in a moderate trot field at Gore on Saturday.
That would push Oscar Bonavena into the last of the 11 spots with others able to leagfrog him.
Swiss Miss, who sits just $1150 behind Oscar Bonavena, could pass him with a top four finish in the Northern Trotting Oaks at Alexandra Park on Friday night but she may not pose much problem to the favourite’s Jewels chances.
“We are actually looking at keeping her in the north for a few starts to target some lower grade races because the stakes are so good,” said Swiss Miss’s trainer Gavin Smith.
“So I doubt we would take her back south for the Jewels.”
Fortunato, Peakz Luck and Sunny’s Little Jestic could all also overtake Oscar Bonavena if they won the Oaks, but up against Tickle Me Pink that looks unlikely.
But a much greater threat comes from Southland trotter Get Lucky, who sits just $370 behind Oscar Bonavena heading into the weekend
He is one of the favourites for the $75,000 Sales Series Trot at Addington on Friday night but money won in sales races doesn’t count toward Jewels qualification because they are restricted.
But trainer Alister Black is also nominating Get Lucky for a trot at Oamaru on Sunday and will decide whether to start there after Friday night’s race.
If Black takes Get Lucky to Oamaru he only needs to run top four against what will be mainly older battlers to snare the last qualifying spot because he sits $370 behind Oscar Bonavena and fourth at Oamaru is worth $380.
So the fate of the Jewels favourite could be decided by $10 in earnings.
“Alister is aware that is what we need to do because the Sales Series race doesn’t count for the Jewels qualifying so he will definitely be in at Oamaru and Alister will decide whether we start or not,” said Get Lucky’s driver Brad Williamson.
Trainer Mark Purdon is aware of the precarious position Oscar Bonavena finds himself in but has decided to stick to his plans and hope they are still be in the field come Sunday night.
Oscar Bonavena does, of course, have the option of also getting into the field through a higher earning rival pulling out but the connections of most of those above Oscar Bonavena has indicated they are targeting the Jewels.
Another well in the market but not certain to be at the Jewels is Alta Maestro, one of the speed influences of the day but now only rated 50-50 to be there.
Driver John Dunn says the four-year-old has what could be a potential knee problem and while he has only missed two or three days work a veterinary examination today could determine his chances of making it to Addington.