Free-going three-year-old filly Wessex proved too swift for her older rivals in Saturday’s Gr.3 Rotorua ITM Stakes (1400m) as she secured a dominant front-running victory.
Rider Kozzi Asano went handlebars down from barrier rise on the Andrew Forsman-trained daughter of Turn Me Loose as he set up a break of more than six lengths midway during the 1400m contest.
It was apparent that Wessex was still travelling sweetly for Asano turning for home, however she started to shorten stride at the 250m as both On The Prowl and race favourite Sumi began to close appreciably.
Wessex found plenty in reserve though as she maintained her gallop to the line, winning by over two lengths and sealing her first victory at stakes level.
Forsman, who enjoyed a long and successful partnership with the now-retired Murray Baker celebrated his first black-type success in a solo capacity when Francesca triumphed in last year’s Rotorua Stakes (1400m), and the Group One winning conditioner was able to land the feature in successive years.
It was a good training feat by Forsman, who produced the filly first-up off a three and a half-month break. She was put aside after finishing down the track behind Prowess in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe.
“She is a filly who always seems to go her best races when she is fresh and she can get out in front, find a rhythm and just do her own thing,” Forsman said.
“It did look like she might have a wee wobble in the run home, but Kozzi did say she had plenty left and when he asked her, she was very strong to the line.
“I did think she would go a good race as she had been working well, so when she got an uncontested lead, I was pretty confident she would be hard to run down.”
Given her ability to handle winter tracks, Forsman will continue along a black type path with Wessex in the short term.
“We will just keep her a little on the fresh side as we look at what is coming up,” he said.
“There is another similar race at Tauranga later in June (Listed Tauranga Classic, 1400m) so that looks like an obvious target for her.”
Bred by Windsor Park Stud, Wessex was a $150,000 purchase by Forsman and part-owner Ben Kwok out of the Stud’s Book 1 draft during the 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale at Karaka.
Out of the stakes winning mare Trepidation, who finished third on two occasions in the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham, Wessex has won three of her eleven starts and over $115,000 in prizemoney.