It’s been more than a year since New Zealand punters have seen Aegon step out on raceday in his homeland, but they will get their fix of the gelding when he lines-up in the Gr.1 TAB Classic (1600m) on Saturday.
The son of Sacred Falls was runner-up behind Prise De Fer in the Trentham feature last year, when run as the Captain Cook Stakes, and trainer and part-owner Andrew Forsman is hoping he can go one better this year.
“I think it is going to be a big enough field from looking at the nominations. The key with him is that we are desperately hoping he draws a decent barrier,” Forsman said.
Since his last New Zealand outing, Aegon has campaigned in Australia and Hong Kong, with his best result coming in the Gr.2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield in August when third behind fellow Kiwi-bred Mr Brightside.
He subsequently returned to New Zealand for a freshen-up and has pleased Forsman with his progress ahead of Saturday’s return, winning his 1200m trial at Taupo last month.
“I am really happy with him,” he said. “It would have been nice to get two trials into him in a perfect world, or even a lead-up run, but there just wasn’t anything suitable for him.
“First-up, off what has been a bit of time between races, over a mile up against horses that are fit will be a bit of a question mark, but we are just hoping his class can overcome that.”
Following Saturday, Forsman is itching to get Aegon up over 2000m for just the second time in his career.
“We will take it race-by-race with him, but we would like to get him to 2000m at some point,” he said.
“Whether that is the Zabeel Classic (Gr.1, 2000m) or we keep him a little bit fresh for the Thorndon (Gr.1, 1600m) and then go to the Herbie Dyke (Gr.1, 2000m), we have just got to work that out and that will be dictated to by how he performs on Saturday.”
Forsman will also be vying to gain some black-type with promising juvenile Red Sea in the Gr.2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m).
The Cambridge Stud-bred and raced colt was runner-up behind subsequent stakes winner Velocious when on debut at Te Rapa last month, which has filled Forsman with confidence ahead of his second-up assignment.
“The form (out of his debut race) has been great,” Forsman said.
“We were disappointed that he didn’t win on debut, but he was beaten by a pretty handy filly. She is probably the best two-year-old to step out so far, so there is no disgrace in being beaten by her.
“He has taken good improvement. We gave him one more trial just to make a point of having him settle off the speed a little bit, knowing that going to Trentham we don’t want to have to lead them up again. That will be the plan heading into Saturday."