On the anniversary of the biggest win of his career so far, classy New Zealand-bred gelding Mr Maestro will race in black-type company on Caulfield Cup Day again in 2023 – this time in his first run back from an injury lay-off.
Last spring, the son of Savabeel announced himself as an exciting three-year-old staying talent, scoring back-to-back stakes wins in Melbourne. He won the Listed Super Impose Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on October 1, then lined up on Caulfield Cup Day and came away with an outstanding win in the Gr.3 Caulfield Classic (2000m).
Mr Maestro went on to run fourth in the Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m), fifth in the Gr.2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) and second in the Gr.2 Autumn Classic (1800m), and the last time he was seen at the races was when he was unplaced behind fellow New Zealander Legarto in the Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m) in early March.
On Saturday he will return to Caulfield Cup Day again, making his four-year-old debut in the A$200,000 Gr.3 Moonga Stakes (1400m).
“He’s coming up well and has had a couple of jumpouts,” trainer Andrew Forsman said. “He’s coming back from a tendon injury. It’s never easy for any horse coming out of their three-year-old season, let alone with a bit of a setback and a long time away from racing.
“So we’re mindful that he’s definitely going to need this run, and he might even need another one as well before he gets up to the right level of fitness.
“We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves at this stage. We’re just wanting to see him back at the races and coming through this first-up run in good order. He needs to get out and running somewhere.
“He’s not overly well off under the set weights and penalties conditions on Saturday, but 1400m is a nice distance for him to start off at. It seems like a suitable starting point for him, and it’s something that we can build from through the rest of the spring.”
Back on home soil, Forsman has three runners entered at Te Rapa on Saturday, including Imarichgirl in the Waikato Draught (1400m).
A daughter of Mongolian Khan, who was trained by Forsman in partnership with Murray Baker to win the Caulfield Cup (2400m) in 2015, Imarichgirl has run solid placings over 1600m in both of her last two starts.
The four-year-old is dropping back to 1400m, where her two previous starts have produced a win and a placing, and she will be ridden by comeback jockey Matt Cameron.
“I thought she was a touch disappointing last start – she had an opportunity to really round the race off strongly and didn’t quite do that,” Forsman said. “So we’ll drop back to 1400m on Saturday in what looks like quite an even race. She has a good draw and it seems like the sort of race that she can be pretty competitive in.”
Blissfull Lady will start a new campaign in the Te Rapa Event Centre 1400. Being by Shocking out of dual Auckland Cup (3200m) heroine Prize Lady, she might be expected to appreciate longer distances later in this preparation.
Stablemate Sassyness will step up in trip for Saturday’s Dunstan – Celebrating Swell Time’s 1973 Caulfield Cup (2400m). Sassyness was runner-up in the Gr.3 Championship Stakes (2100m) in April. The daughter of Sacred Falls ran an eye-catching fourth resuming over 1400m, then finished sixth over 1600m and was unplaced over 2000m.