Andrew Forsman is holding a wet track trump card in Turn The Ace and will continue to play a few more hands through the winter with the three-year-old.
The Cambridge trainer produced the son Turn Me Loose for a runaway last-start victory in age group company at Avondale and will tackle a similar event over 1300 metres at Tauranga this Saturday.
Turn The Ace has bounced back to winning form after failing to build on his unbeaten juvenile record, which included success in the Listed Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre Stakes (1100m), during his summer campaign.
“He’s come back well and we don’t really know why he wasn’t racing up to what he had showed as a two-year-old,” Forsman said.
“He is going well now and handled a heavy track last time so he’s pretty adept in the conditions and we’ve got wet tracks for a little while yet.
“If you have a horse in form in heavy ground then you keep running him I guess and pick off whatever you can.”
Turn The Ace will step up to 1300 metres in Saturday’s ITM/GIB Winter Championship Series Qualifying Race and his performance will be another indicator toward his best distance range.
“We need to figure out whether he’s just a 1300 or 1400m horse or whether he can stretch to a mile and that would give us a lot more options,” Forsman said.
“Over a bit further he might be fine on top of the ground. I think he was lacking confidence through the summer and something wasn’t quite gelling so I wouldn’t write him off.
“Clearly he handles the wet ground though and we might as well use that to our advantage in the meantime.”
Oneroa will also be in action at Tauranga where she will be tested in stronger company in the Listed Team Wealleans Tauranga Classic ITM/GIB Sprinters’ Winter Championship (1400m).
The Shooting To Win mare has won three of her 10 appearances and placed in both efforts in Racing 74 company this preparation, including a bold last-start third at Avondale.
“She was very good last time and it was probably one of the runs of the day. Her sectionals were as good as any and she is in great form,” Forsman said.
“I’m not sure what the field will come up like and whether she’s quite there yet, but it’s worth a go and obviously black-type is so important for her.”
In the meantime, Forsman’s focus will be on his runners at the Pukekohe meeting on Wednesday with a two-handed attack on the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1200m) to try and continue the stable’s winning run following Hot Pinx’s success at Te Rapa on Saturday.
Mongolian Khan filly Imarichgirl impressed with a fast-finishing debut third while improvement is expected from Wessex after an unplaced resuming run.
“Imarichgirl was good first time out and it’s just a bit of a shame her preparation has been dragged out waiting for this, but it’s a Pearl Series event,” Forsman said.
“She has drawn barrier 12 and will get back so it won’t be easy. Pukekohe should suit her and hopefully she’s got one more good run in her before a break.”
Wessex, a daughter of Turn Me Loose, was a winner at the first time of asking in the spring before a break and was again given a breather after she tailed the field home in the Gr.2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) on New Year’s Day.
She returned from another let-up to finish eighth in the Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) at Waverley earlier this month.
“She drew wide and was off the track and hung and it was a messy race. She’s got a better draw and hopefully she can get back to that better form she showed earlier on,” Forsman said.
“I just think she might need a bit of racing to get back into it.”
Hot Pinx was too strong her for Rating 74 opposition at Te Rapa and the second win of the Iffraaj four-year-old’s campaign, following a fresh-up victory at Hawera last month.
“It was good to see her bounce back and we probably just backed her up a bit too quickly off the back of a trip away first-up,” Forsman said.
“Two weeks later she went to Pukekohe and the track was a little bit too good for her and she relished the slower ground on Saturday.”