Andrew Forsman has only just returned to New Zealand after overseeing the final preparations of his team competing in The Championships in Sydney, but he is hoping it won’t be too long until he is back across the Tasman.
Forsman and training partner Murray Baker will have a strong contingent at Ellerslie on Saturday, including a couple of three-year-olds they have earmarked for Classic targets in Queensland over the coming months.
While a trip to the sunshine state is in the offing for Joy Alone and Daqiansweet Junior, Forsman said they will need to perform in the Group 2 Trelawney Stud Championship Stakes (2100m) at Ellerslie to warrant the trip.
Both featured prominently in the Group 3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) at Awapuni over Easter Weekend, with Joy Alone running home late to take out the three-year-old feature, while Daqiansweet Junior held on for third.
“Joy Alone was really strong at the finish and came from a fair way off them,” Forsman said. “The other guy (Daqiansweet Junior) just struggled in the (Slow9) ground a touch, which might be the query with him again on Saturday (Ellerslie rated a Slow8 on Thursday morning).
“I have only just got back this week but I have seen both of their gallops this week and both are working up really well and both seem to be in good order.”
Daqiansweet Junior has drawn the ace marble for Saturday, while Joy Alone will jump from barrier 12, allowing both three-year-olds to follow their natural racing pattern.
“Daqiansweet Junior should be handy enough and Joy Alone will naturally get back,” Forsman said. “It will be interesting to see how the track’s playing. From those draws they should both get their chance.”
Daqiansweet Junior will be having his first start in the silks of OTI Racing after the syndicator purchased the exciting galloper off Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry in a deal brokered by bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo.
Forsman was pleased to keep the son of Sweet Orange in his barn and he is looking forward to continuing his stable’s strong association with the Australian syndicator.
The Cambridge stable has had plenty of success with OTI Racing horses over the years, including Derby success with Quick Thinker (Group 1 Australian Derby, 2400m) and Vin De Dance (Group 1 New Zealand Derby, 2400m), and they are hoping Daqiansweet Junior can add to that list.
“It is good for us to have support from OTI,” Forsman said. “We have had a lot of success with OTI and hopefully that can continue.
“If he can get some more prizemoney in the bin then we may be able to get him to Brisbane for a crack at the Derby (Group 1, 2400m) over there.
“If they can put their hand up this Saturday we might get both of them there.”
Meanwhile, stablemates Marroni and Crafty Jess will also be vying for stakes honours on Saturday in the Group 2 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m).
Marroni will get his first go at stakes level after winning over a mile at Te Rapa last Saturday, while Crafty Jess will be looking to regain form after running sixth first-up at the same meeting.
“It is a big step up for Marroni, although it was a pretty competitive field last week,” Forsman said. “It is not going to be an easy task but he had a good gallop this morning and he is certainly up to it. He is showing us enough ability and he seems to be in great form.
“Crafty Jess has been black-type placed and thereabouts in similar races. She will go into it at big odds. The only query with her is on the back up she hasn’t perhaps performed that well before, also at Ellerslie when it has been rain-affected, she has been tripped up there the odd time as well.”
Earlier on the card the Baker-Forsman barn will be represented by three runners in the Listed Staphanos By Deep Impact Champagne Stakes (1600m), including debutants Eagle Tarzan and Samarkand.
“They are both nice horses,” Forsman said. “They are staying type of horses which is why we have chosen to run them over a mile first-up.
“It is certainly never easy when they haven’t had a run, but it looked a suitable race and over 1200m they are probably a touch outpaced. Hopefully they can pull it off over a mile first-up.”
Real Impact gelding Daario completes the trio and Forsman said he should appreciate the step up to 1600m.
“He is a horse we have targeted towards this race,” he said. “We just wanted to give him a couple of runs knowing that we are hoping he is a stayer in the making. Up to a mile against his own age group with a couple of runs under his belt, hopefully he can put his hand up.”
The stable’s Ellerslie team will be rounded out by stakes winner Rhaegar in the Civic Contractors 1400.
“He is bit of an enigma,” Forsman said. “His two runs this time in have been very poor for him. He was in good form last preparation.
“I can’t fault him at home, he has been working well. Dropping back to 1400m we are just hoping he can take a sit off the pace and come at them with one run.
“He has won at the track and distance before in a stakes race, so he is definitely up to it on ability, he just needs to prove that he is back to his better form.”
Having returned to New Zealand on Monday after the trans-Tasman travel bubble opened up, Forsman reflected positively on his team’s efforts over The Championships.
“It was good to be there when you have got horses in big races,” he said. “While we had mixed success, we still were able to win a couple over there, which is never easy at this time of year.
“It is a great carnival and it was just great to be a part of the scene over there, and nice to know that we can still take our better ones over and compete.”
The majority of the Sydney raiders have returned to New Zealand, while Quick Thinker has remained in Sydney in preparation for a Queensland campaign after winning the Group 2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m) at Randwick last start.
Unfortunately, he had to bypass the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) after sustaining a minor injury to his near foreleg.
“Quick Thinker is just recovering from a bit of an injury,” Forsman said. “He is still at Warwick Farm. If he can come right in the next week or so we might head up to Brisbane with him.
“The Chosen One got home the day after the Sydney Cup. He was probably a touch disappointing, but he still ran with merit.
“Aegon and The Frontman came home the day after they raced on Derby Day. They will both have a good six weeks in the paddock now and come back into work and aim towards getting to Australia again in the spring.”