Kiwi filly She’s Licketysplit will have the sternest test of her burgeoning career when she heads to Flemington on Saturday to compete against weight-for-age company in the Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m).
The three-year-old filly will carry just 49kg in the Group One, 7.5kg less than her nearest rival, and while he is unsure how his filly will measure up this weekend, trainer Andrew Forsman believes she will be competitive with that weight disparity.
“Our filly is really well, she hasn’t had a lot of luck with track conditions this preparation, so hopefully she gets some reasonable footing and gets her chance to show her best,” Forsman told RSN.
“It is hard to know how a lightly tried filly will measure up against these hardened older mares, but I think we are well placed.
“It is very hard to line up the form. I don’t know how strong the bunch of three-year-old fillies that she has been racing against are. We just have to have confidence in our horse, put her in the race, use the weight pull, and hopefully she can run out the mile strongly against them.”
Forsman is hoping the weather plays its part on Saturday, something that has played against his filly this spring.
“She is quite a big, powerful filly for a spring three-year-old and she needs good ground to operate,” he said.
The daughter of Windsor Park Stud stallion Turn Me Loose heads into Saturday in good form against her own age group, having won the Gr.3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m), assuring her trip across the Tasman, before placing in the Gr.2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m), winning the Gr.2 Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m), and placing in the Gr.1 Thousand Guineas (1600m).
Bred by long-time friends Dean Hawkins and Nick Hewson, who share in the ownership, She’s Licketysplit will come up against fellow Kiwi La Crique on Saturday, and Forsman is wary of the Group One-winning mare.
“She is genuine Group One quality here in Australia. She is going to be really hard to beat,” he said.
Forsman will also be represented by Mr Maestro in the Gr.1 VRC Derby (2500m) but the Savabeel colt has been a big drifter this week after drawing the outside barrier of 17 from what is a tricky starting point at Flemington.
Mr Maestro has won his last three races, including the Listed Super Impose Stakes (1800m) and Gr.3 Caulfield Classic (2000m), and heads into the Derby as $6 third favourite.
“You bring horses over here just hoping to be competitive let alone to have them winning, it has been very good,” Forsman said.
“He has shown a good ability to relax in his races and just be there when you need him. He is pretty push button now and hopefully he can run the 2500m.
“I don’t think we have to stress about the draw too much, it is going to be up to Damian (Lane, jockey) and how the race unfolds.
“We can’t control what the horses inside of us do and a lot of it might depend on how he leaves the barrier. If we do take the punt and press forward, our main opposition are going to be in the first six or seven having some cozy runs, they are not going to let us slot in somewhere. I think we run the risk of being caught three-wide and working if we do press the button.
“We are lucky that we have a horse that is adaptable. If he began well he does have the ability to work forward. I remember Lion Tamer drew wide in his Derby and he jumped and put himself right on the speed, sat outside the leader and just outstayed them. We might be able to do something similar with this guy.”
Mr Maestro has long been aimed at the Derby in an attempt to emulate his close relative Lion Tamer, who trounced his rivals when scoring in 2010.
Bred by Windsor Park Stud, Mr Maestro was purchased for $100,000 at Karaka by Forsman.