Melbourne spring carnival star jockey Mick Dee will ride Group One winner Aegon in next month's Gr.1 Rydges Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham.
Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman confirmed the booking of Victoria-based Kiwi hoop Dee for Aegon, who has arrived back in New Zealand in terrific order after a two-race Melbourne campaign that resulted in victory in the Gr.3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and a fourth to Alligator Blood in the Gr.1 Champions Mile (1600m) at Flemington.
"In an evenly-run race, his sectionals coming home were as good as any in the race. He just had to get back from that wide draw and that cost him finishing closer," Forsman said of Aegon's Champions Mile run.
"It was good to see him measure up against that sort of line-up. That's the best of what's going around at a mile in Australia at the moment. It was great and he's travelled home and settled in very well since."
While that gives Forsman a grand opportunity of snaring the 27th Group One of his career and second training on his own account, his more immediate focus is on two stakes races at Pukekohe on Saturday.
Forsman will saddle Express Princess in the Gr.2 Dunstan Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1400m) and Ethereal Star in the Listed Barfoot & Thompson Challenge Stakes (1100m).
Shamexpress six-year-old mare Express Princess produced an arguably career-best run to win the 1400m open handicap at Tauranga last Saturday.
"She was much better, just back to 1400m and riding her off the pace a bit," Forsman said.
"She was very disappointing the start before and we couldn't really figure out what had gone wrong so it was nice to see her run up to the ability she's shown us on the training track at home.
"She came back from Australia. Rachel (Murray) and Roddy (Schick) from Windsor Park Stud had leased her in Australia and she'd been racing over there. They decided to get her home and look at breeding her but hopefully look at picking up some black-type before she's off to stud.
"Things just hadn't gone right for her. She was pretty good first-up back here at Ruakaka and then we gave her a freshen up because she wasn't going to be that effective on the heavy winter tracks as we'd first thought.
"She got conditions to suit at Tauranga and it was good to see her on the job. She's a top-three chance on her best form from a good draw."
Forsman has a good opinion of Snitzel two-year-old filly Ethereal Star, who closed nicely for a debut second at Te Rapa earlier this month.
"She's trained on really well. This race gives her an opportunity of getting important black-type and then she'll have a freshen-up. How she performs on Saturday will dictate what we do with her next year," Forsman said.
Along with retired former training partner Murray Baker, Forsman prepared Ethereal Star's dam Eleonora to win three races from just 11 starts, among them Group Three wins in the Ethereal Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield and the Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie as well as placing in the Gr.1 Victorian Oaks (2500m) at Flemington in 2016.
"There are a lot of similarities between this filly and her mum which is always nice to see in a family member you've trained before. They're the same colour, have the same demeanour and she seems to be a real racehorse like Eleonora was."
Forsman's other runners at Pukekohe are Good Oil, Think Twice and Amazing Grace, who will shoot for her third straight win in the Vernon & Vazey 2100.
Holding nominations for the Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Pukekohe in March as well as both the Gr.3 Windsor Park Stud Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2400m) and the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final (2400m) at Te Rapa on January, Amazing Grace's form will dictate her summer programme.
"She's going really well and we've been looking forward to getting her up in trip, which she gets on Saturday. It's a handy enough field though so it's not going to be easy and she has drawn awkwardly so she's going to have to give them a start too," Forsman said.
"I don't know how many more runs she has in her this preparation. She's still not quite there physically. Those feature races are all possible but she'll tell us more Saturday with how she performs and how she comes through this one.
"I'm happy with all of the team. They're all in form but you look at the fields all day and they are big and competitive so it's never easy on those sort of days. We're going with a few nice chances and hopefully we can get one or two."