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Oaks favourite carrying historic colours

There is more than a hint of history around the colours carried to Group Two success in the Sir Tristram Classic by Bonneval.

The blue and green combo topped with a red cap has been associated with part-owner John Rattray's family for over 100 years.

"They were the colours of the Irish Fusiliers, which was my grandfather's regiment and he registered them in 1915. We lost them for a period when my father let them lapse and someone else picked them up, then we got them back," Rattray said.

During the past 25 years the colours have been carried with distinction by a number of horses Rattray has had an involvement in, usually racing out of the Murray Baker stable.

Bonneval, who Rattray races with Alister Lawrence and Terry Jarvis, is prepared by Baker and his training partner Andrew Forsman in Cambridge.

"The first horse I had with Murray was The Bill, he won the Group Two Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill at 80-1 in 1993," Rattray recalled.

"Ever since then I have never really had a year go by without having something in work," he said. "We've only had about one or two that never won a race."

When pondering the best he has been involved with Rattray labels the half-siblings Fatal and Dowry.

"Fatal won nine races, including the Group Two Japan/NZ International Trophy Race. It was a terrible name for a horse, I wanted to call him Fate or Fatalistic, but both had gone."

Dowry, a daughter of the Noble Bijou mare Meant for Me, herself a sister to the AJC Oaks Gr.1 winner Our Sophia, gave Rattray another taste of Australian Group success when she took out the 2004 South Australian Oaks. The mare currently features as the grand-dam of stakes placed three-year-old filly Starvoia.

Further Oaks success beckons for Rattray and his partners after Bonneval, a daughter of Makfi and the Zabeel mare Imposingly, leapt into favouritism for the Gr.1 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks on March 18.

"Alister [Lawrence] and I go to the sales each year to look to buy something and we weren't actually thinking about buying a Makfi, but we were at Westbury and looked at her and liked her," Rattray said.

"It is one of those families that has just got better and better, the dam has now left four Group winners."

"We knew we would have to pay more for her and we decided to go to $150,000 on the basis that Alister, who has a business involvement with Terry, would get him to take a share. We got her for our exact limit."

"When you buy a filly like this it is a real thrill," he said. - NZ Racing Desk.