Lightly raced four-year-old Francesca provided trainer Andrew Forsman with a day he will long remember when she took out the Gr.3 Rydges Rotorua Stakes (1400m) on Saturday.
Barely a fortnight into his solo training career after spending many years in partnership with Murray Baker, who retired at the beginning of the month, Forsman registered his first victory in his own right when Hot Pinx took out a rating 65 1400 contest at Hawera.
Less than twenty minutes later Francesca, who was having her first start since suffering a bleed at the venue in October last year, provided her well-credentialled mentor with the second leg of a winning double on the day and a first stakes victory under his new regime.
The daughter of Iffraaj had shown plenty of talent throughout her career and indicated she was primed for a forward showing after producing a stylish victory over 950m at the Cambridge trials on April 26.
Jockey Matthew Cameron, who had earlier taken out the other black-type feature on the day when Sinarahma won the Gr.3 Campbell Infrastructure Rotorua Cup (2200m), made good use of an inside barrier as he sent Francesca straight to the front and dictated terms throughout.
Taken on approaching the home bend by Montana Mist and La Bella Beals, Francesca kicked away in the run home to comfortably hold out the late challenges of Sassy Merlot and Secret Admirer to register her fifth career victory from just nine starts.
Forsman had breathed a sigh of relief after the win by Hot Pinx and was thrilled to back up that success with Francesca, a mare he holds in high regard.
“It’s great to get the monkey off the back as we have had a few minor placings to kick off, but got the winners today,” he said.
“Francesca is a mare we have always had an opinion of but she had a bleed last time, so we had to put her away for a good long spell.
“She has come back really well, with no signs of any problems and she was ready to run a good race.
“She got a cosy time in front but was eyeballed a long way out and I thought her fitness might be an issue, however she really kicked strongly and got a well-deserved stakes win.”
Forsman is not sure of the next steps for the mare, who he believes is better with just a little cut in the track.
“I’m not convinced she is a dead set wet tracker, so the Soft 5 was perfect for her today,” he said.
“With the tracks getting deeper I’m not sure what to do with her, so we will wait and see how she recovers then have a chat with her owner to see where we go next.”
Bred and raced by Greg McCarthy, Francesca is out of the High Chapparal mare Matagouri and comes from a family that includes stakes winners Sabbatical and Monterey Bay
Forsman is however keen to see the progress that Hot Pinx can make in this campaign after her first-up victory.
“Hot Pinx definitely likes winter going and now she has strengthened up I think she can go through the grades,” he said.
“She has been quite fragile physically, but with that added maturity I think she has a few good months coming up as the tracks get deeper.”