IN Racing
First Innings runs into Derby contention
“If they run the Derby like that in a week and a half, we will be happy."
NZ Racing Desk | May 23, 2024
First Innings winning at Pukekohe before relocating to Andrew Forsman’s Australian stable. Photo: Trish Dunell

Talented three-year-old stayer First Innings has booked a place in the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) after coming from last to land a 2180m three-year-old handicap at Ipswich on Wednesday.

The Andrew Forsman-trained son of Contributer went back to last under jockey Jim Byrne and crept into the race shortly before rounding the home turn, making his run widest on the tight-turning Queensland track to score a resounding two length victory over a competitive field.

Forsman was on course to oversee proceedings and was delighted to see the race run to suit his charge.

“We thought we were up against it from the barrier draw (14) but the pressure in that first 600m was pretty brutal and set it up for him. He is a genuine stayer,” Forsman said.

“If they run the Derby like that in a week and a half, we will be happy.

“He is a progressive horse who will be a nice stayer as he matures and gets older, but he really is thriving and coming into his own.”

Forsman was acutely aware of the record of jockey Jim Byrne at the unique circuit, where Byrne has won nine senior premierships at Ipswich as well as three apprenticeship titles and is known as the "King of Ipswich".

“I did my research and Jimmy had done his research too. He knew all about the horse and told me how it was all going to unfold and thankfully it worked out,” Forsman said. 

“I think we will have to put Jimmy on in the Derby. He is a class jockey and he has ridden him a treat today.”

Wednesday’s victory in the A$75,000 contest is likely to provide First Innings with enough prizemoney to make the Derby field.

A maiden winner in New Zealand, First Innings was a well held tenth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) but freshened up well to catch the eye when third in the Gr.3 Championship Stakes (2100m) behind stablemate Moonlight Magic.

First Innings is raced by bloodstock agent Michael Hughes in conjunction with ex-pat Kiwis Cam and Chas Stewart, who are now based on the North Queensland coast at Noosa where they run a seafood business.

In conjunction with Goodwood Stud, the Stewarts bred First Innings, who is out of the Pins mare Dream Run, who finished fourth in the Gr.3 Lowland Stakes (2100m) for Paul and Kris Shailer.

While First Innings has now earned A$78,152 in prizemoney and is set to leap up the order of entry for the Queensland Derby, for which he is rated a $15 chance, stablemate Moonlight Magic looks doubtful to gain a start in Saturday’s Gr.2 The Roses (2000m), where she is fourth emergency.

First Innings Jimmy Byrne Andrew Forsman Gr.1 Queensland Derby Goodwood Contributer