Andrew Forsman is set for a busy weekend, overseeing black-type contenders in both Sydney and Melbourne.
The winner of four New Zealand trainers’ premierships in the last five years alongside Murray Baker, Forsman will saddle Quick Thinker and Rhaegar in Saturday’s Gr.3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill.
The following day he will be at Caulfield, where The Chosen One is set to line up in the Gr.1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
Quick Thinker and Rhaegar were both black-type winners at Ellerslie last season, capturing the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) and the Listed Auckland Futurity Stakes (1400m) respectively.
They made their Australian debuts together in last month’s Gr.3 Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m), where Quick Thinker scored an emphatic two-length victory and Rhaegar was fourth. Both have made pleasing progress since then.
“They haven’t missed a beat,” said Forsman, who arrived in Sydney early on Friday afternoon. “It’s a reasonably long time between runs, but they’ve both been working really well and they’re heading into tomorrow’s race in great order.”
Quick Thinker made plenty of waves with his Ming Dynasty victory, and the OTI Racing runner is near the top of betting markets for the Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) on November 2. But Baker and Forsman also saw merit in Rhaegar’s performance.
“It was a good effort from him as well,” said Forsman, who secured Rhaegar for $60,000 as a yearling at Karaka for an ownership syndicate that includes himself, his parents, and the Zame family of Jon Snow fame.
“He’s a big horse who takes a little while to get his momentum up, and he didn’t get out and get balanced up until quite late in the race. His wheels were spinning a little bit in the heavy track as well, but he was very solid to the line.”
Damian Lane will ride Quick Thinker on Saturday, with Jason Collett partnering Rhaegar.
Following Saturday’s race, both horses will be aimed at the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on October 12 as they build towards a potential shot at the Derby the following month.
“That’s the plan at this stage, but we’ll find out a bit more tomorrow in terms of whether they can stretch out to those staying distances,” Forsman said. “At this stage, it looks like they both will.”
On Sunday in Melbourne, The Chosen One will attempt to add to a proud stable record in the Underwood Stakes.
The champion trainers won the weight-for-age feature with star mare Bonneval in 2017, and Baker had previously won it himself with The Phantom (1990), Lion Tamer (2011) and Dundeel (2013).
Part-owned by his breeders the Dennis brothers, The Chosen One scored three black-type wins last season including the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) at Awapuni and the Gr.3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) in Sydney. He was also a strong-finishing fourth in the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m).
The son of Savabeel began his spring preparation with a close fifth in the Gr.2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) on September 7.
“It was a good run, he covered a bit of ground but was strong to the line and finished close up behind them,” Forsman said. “His work’s been good since then. He’s drawn well on Sunday and should be competitive in what may not be the strongest of Underwoods – he looks likely to be the fourth favourite.”
Lane rode The Chosen One in the Feehan Stakes, and he will take the mount again on Sunday in a race that will determine the four-year-old’s spring path.
“A lot will depend on what he does this weekend,” Forsman said. “If he looks like measuring up at Group One weight-for-age level, we can continue along that path and look at something like the Cox Plate (Gr.1, 2040m).
“If not, we can switch to handicap races and try to get him into the Caulfield Cup (Gr.1, 2400m).”
Meanwhile, Baker and Forsman will be represented on the home front by Zacada, She’s A Lady, Lucetta and Elle Eye Are at Ellerslie on Saturday.