A sizeable investment by the connections of Ethereal Star will be handsomely rewarded if the well-related filly continues her winning form on Saturday.
The high-priced daughter of Snitzel won the Listed Challenge Stakes (1100m) at her second appearance last time out at Pukekohe and will return there for the DoubleTree By Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m).
She is trained by Andrew Forsman, who was also pleased with the trial performances at Tauranga on Tuesday of a number of his other star performers including Aegon, Lickety Split, who goes by She’s Licketysplit in Australia, and Mr Maestro.
Ethereal Star was a $600,000 purchase last year at Karaka where she was offered by Blandford Lodge and signed for by Forsman with bloodstock agents Andrew Williams and Bevan Smith.
The filly’s dam is the c mare Eleonora, who Forsman prepared with the now retired Murray Baker to win twice at Group Three level and she finished third in the Gr.1 VRC Oaks (2500m).
Ethereal Star has got to the Karaka Million on a light, but planned approach.
“It has all happened quite quickly for her and we really think her go will be as a spring three-year-old so we have been mindful of not over-taxing her,” Forsman said.
“She’s already a stakes winner and we wanted to look after her, knowing she’s also qualified for the $1 million race.
“We had to keep that option open and she’s done as little as possible and that might possibly count against her on Saturday, but she is spot on.”
Forsman has struck up a successful association with Melbourne jockey Damian Lane, who will make the trip over to partner Ethereal Star and stablemate The Intimidator in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
The son of Toronado has won two of his five starts and has posted successive placings in the Gr.3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) and Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m).
The Intimidator will be joined in the Classic by last-start Gr.3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) winner Devastate, who will again be ridden by Joe Doyle, and Craig Zackey will retain the mount on Wessex.
Wessex gave a bold sight for third in the Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) when setting the tempo and putting a wide margin on her rivals at the top of the straight before being overhauled late in the piece by Legarto, and Skew Wiff,
Forsman was more than satisfied by the Tauranga trial efforts today of the Victorian-bound duo of Aegon and Mr Maestro, who claimed their respective 960m heats.
“The plan at this stage is that they will have one more trial each at Rotorua and then both of them will resume at Sandown on February 11,” he said.
“Aegon will run in the CF Orr Stakes (Gr.1, 1400m) and, if he runs really well, he’ll be a contender for the All-Star Mile (A$5 million, 1600m).
“Mr Maestro will be in the Autumn Stakes (Gr.2, 1400m) and what he does will dictate whether he’s an Australian Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) contender or there’s the Autumn Classic (Gr.2, 1800m) for him.”
Lickety Split will also trial again at Rotorua before a definite decision is made on her immediate future.
“She really needs good ground so it will be weather dependant whether she goes to Melbourne or Sydney,” Forsman said.
“No plan has been made at this stage and we will decide in the next week or two where she will get the best tracks and then we’ll firm up her program.
“I’m very happy with all of them, they have only had three or four decent gallops since they have been back in work.
“They were getting a bit above themselves so they needed to get out and do something and they will be a bit more serious at Rotorua.”