Top-class miler Aegon is off for a break with features across the Tasman in autumn in mind after a great effort for second in last Saturday's Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m).
Fresh from a fourth-place finish in the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) at Flemington, Aegon started favourite at Trentham but went down to Prise De Fer by half a length.
“The race unfolded as we feared it might, unfortunately, with Prise De Fer getting on his back and having the last shot at him,” Aegon's trainer Andrew Forsman said.
“I thought he was brave. I feel like he didn't quicken as good as he could have on a better track, but that's a pretty minor excuse I would have thought.
“When Prise De Fer came to him he dug in and he did try hard, but he ran into a better one on the day.”
2022 Captain Cook Stakes Replay
Forsman said the former New Zealand 2000 Guineas (Group 1, 1600m) winner had come through the race well, but he would be put out for a break with an Australian autumn campaign in mind.
“We had a good look at him this morning and he was bouncing, so he's really come through the race well, but he's gone to the paddock today. Even though he's been lightly-raced this prep he's been up a while now, so we needed to give him a break at some point and he'll go out for a few weeks now,” he said.
“I think he's up to weight-for-age either here or in Australia. He's got a couple of options in Melbourne that we'll probably work towards in February.”
Aegon's next race is most likely to be the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Sandown on February 11. He usually runs best when lightly-raced and his targets will be kept at around 1600m.
“To be honest, on a big track that was a little bit off on Saturday at Trentham, a strong mile really sees him out, and that's the extent of his range,” Forsman said.
“I doubt we'll ever go beyond a mile with him again, and focus on keeping him fresh and at 1400m to 1600m.”
Aegon was one of two Forsman-trained runners to finish second in black-type races at the weekend. The other was The Intimidator, who was out finished in the final 100m of the Group 3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) by favourite Sacred Satono.
“We were really happy with The Intimidator going into it and we've got a lot of time for him going forward,” Forsman said.
“It was a shame he didn't win, but he was beaten by a good horse whose form is really strong this time in, and I'm sure we've got a little bit of improvement to come in him.”
The Intimidator is likely to race next at the Auckland Thoroughbred Racing Christmas carnival, either in the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe on December 26 or the Group 2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) at Te Rapa on January 1.
His main aim for mid-summer will be the Karaka Million Three-Year-Old Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe on January 21, where he is likely to meet his stable companion Devastate, a last-start winner of the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m).
“Devastate has had a really good prep this spring,” Forsman said. “He's out having a short let-up and he'll probably resume first-up into the Karaka Million Three-Year-Old.
“How he and The Intimidator compete there will probably determine whether they try to step out over further than that.”
Also finishing second at the weekend for Forsman was the black type-placed filly Wessex, who scooted out to a big early lead in a three-year-old 1400m maiden at Trentham but fought well to be defeated only by the well-regarded Tivaci Princess.
Forsman said Wessex would likely be aimed at further black type.
“It was a pretty bold run. Hopefully it hasn't taken too much out of her,” he said.
“Where we go next is unknown. We would like to see her race a little bit more tractably next time, and then later on have another go at some black type.”
Forsman did pick up one winner on Saturday with Sporting Chance, who showed plenty of fight fresh-up for jockey Wiremu Pinn to take out a Rating 65 1500m event at Pukekohe.
“He's always shown enough ability but has been hard to figure out on raceday at times,” he said.
“I thought Wiremu rode him really well. He rode him positively and put him in the race and that's probably the key to him, to try to get him in the fight.”
Forsman has won five black type races in New Zealand this season and will aim to pick up a couple more on Saturday.
Express Princess will contest the Group 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) for fillies and mares at Te Rapa. She finished second to Darci La Bella in the Group 2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1400m) on November 19 and possibly won't have to contend with Darci La Bella again this weekend.
“She just got a little bit flat-footed last time and may appreciate stepping up to 1600m at Te Rapa,” he said.
His other stakes contender for Saturday is Imarichgirl, a maiden winner at Avondale on November 23 who will step up to the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) at Awapuni.
“She's always shown the ability of a horse that could compete for some black type. She's been a little bit of a work in progress, but we put the blinkers on last start and that really helped to switch her on. She's trained on well and this looks a suitable race for her.”