The irony of Aegon running at the highest level in Australia in what may arguably be a lesser challenge for more than double the prizemoney of a feature event at home hasn’t been lost on Andrew Forsman.
Aegon will resume in Saturday’s A$750,000 Gr.1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) on the Hillside course at Sandown.
On the same day, the $300,000 Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) will be a highlight on the Te Rapa card, where a deep field of New Zealand’s best gallopers has been assembled.
“With all due respect to the good Australian horses, some of them will probably be looking for a mile and further pretty quickly as opposed to running against the sharp New Zealand horses at Te Rapa,” Forsman said.
He was referring to the likes of the race-fit Levante, Imperatriz and Babylon Berlin while La Crique, Dragon Leap, Bonny Lass and Maven Belle also add to a stellar edition of the BCD Group Sprint.
Aegon will spearhead a three-strong line up at Sandown for Forsman with She’s Licketysplit to run in the Gr.3 Kevin Hayes Stakes (1100m) and Mr Maestro will contest the Gr.2 Autumn Stakes (1400m).
His trio will arrive at Flemington on Wednesday evening and Forsman will follow on Thursday morning. The trip will also give him the opportunity to visit Macedon Lodge, where he has secured boxes for a full-time presence in Victoria.
“I’m still working through staffing and the logistics and I will go out to the complex on Friday with a few owners to look around,” he said.
“All the feedback has been very positive, but realistically we won’t have horses in there until the middle of April as there’s still a bit to work out.”
More immediately, the A$5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley on March 18 is the dream grand final for Sacred Falls’ son Aegon.
“It will be a great race to be a part of and after what he did when fourth in the Champions Mile (Gr.1, 1600m) at Flemington we know he’s good enough to be there,” Forsman said.
He will wait until after the Orr Stakes to lock in Aegon’s next appearance.
“A two-week back-up has never really worked out that well for him so the Futurity Stakes (Gr.1, 1400m) is pretty questionable,” Forsman said.
“With him it’s race by race and see how he performs. Where he’s rated, there’s only X number of races for him and if he runs well enough on Saturday, he may not need to run again before the All-Star if he gets in.”
Aegon finished runner-up in the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) in his last appearance in December and has had two trials to fit him for his return.
“He didn’t have a huge break after Trentham so he’s relatively fit and spot on and should get a nice track,” Forsman said.
Forsman said Aegon was more forward in his preparation than She’s Licketysplit and Mr Maestro.
“We saw that at the trials at Te Rapa last Friday, they were a little bit above themselves and I’m glad we had the opportunity for that day out because they will go into their races a bit on the fresh side.
“The weather here hasn’t played its part as far as us getting the work into them, they will be a bit vulnerable fitness-wise.
“Damian Lane will ride She’s Licketysplit and Mr Maestro and Michael Dee will be on Aegon.”
On the home front, Mustang Valley and True Enough will open their campaigns in a hot BCD Group Sprint line-up.
“They’ve got to run as it’s really the only race they can run in to fit them for the weight-for-age Classic at Otaki (Gr.1, 1600m) and that is their immediate target and they should come into their own and be more competitive,” Forsman said.
“Mustang Valley is coming up very well and, if there’s a bit of moisture in the track, I think she can run a cheeky race.
“You would imagine that on a good surface Levante, Imperatriz and Babylon Berlin will be a bit too quick for her.
“With True Enough, he will put himself there but will lack that speed. As long as they go good, solid races I’ll be happy.”