High-class three-year-old Aegon proved the New Zealand form was right up to the mark when dominating his Australian rivals in the Gr.2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained gelding crossed the Tasman earlier this week as the winner of all four of his starts in New Zealand, including victories in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
Despite being slow into stride, Aegon relaxed beautifully under Hugh Bowman and pounced on his rivals once a gap presented to win comfortably by 1-3/4 lengths over North Pacific and Prime Star.
The son of Sacred Falls has now rocketed into outright favouritism for the Gr.1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) in a fortnight and Bowman sounded an ominous warning suggesting he won with more in the tank.
“I was impressed with what I saw on replays but to Andrew and Murray and all the owners, they’re having a bit of a house party back in New Zealand, they’ve come over here and the proof is in the pudding with the Murray Baker stable when they come here,” Bowman said.
“They don’t just come here for a trip away. They know the right horses to bring. He’s had an excellent record and this horse certainly hasn’t disappointed me. I was ultra-impressed with him. He’s got the world at his feet.
“He didn’t jump particularly well. He was standing well but he just missed it slightly. It didn’t affect my position from a good draw. Mid-race he was just in such a good rhythm. It was the sort of rhythm you can see him stepping up to a higher class. It’s why he has the record he has.
“He doesn’t spend any energy mid-race. I didn’t have much room to choose from. I had a couple of options. I could just tell when I followed him through the gap he was going to produce. He just loved the competition. I think he won with a bit in hand to be honest.”
The win was special for Forsman, who part owns the three-year-old with good friends the Zame family, having purchased the youngster as a yearling at Karaka for $150,000 from the draft of Waikato Stud.
Covid-19 restrictions prevented Baker or Forsman from being on-hand in Sydney, with Forsman watching on apprehensively from New Zealand.
“It was a real buzz,” he said. “To see him win like that was very special.
“I was quite apprehensive and then watching the way the track was playing my confidence was drained a little bit.
“Hugh had him in a beautiful rhythm and that was the key to it. He just needed that split and thankfully he got it. He is a horse that can be held up and sprint off a pretty short run. It was a great thrill.”
Forsman praised Bjorn Baker’s (Murray’s son) team for their assistance, particularly given travelling foreperson Aleisha Legg couldn’t travel to Sydney this week as planned due to a a minor COVID outbreak in Auckland.
“It is hard not being there and not being hands on, but we are lucky to have Bjorn and the base we have over there which has been a big help to us, particularly this week,” he said.
“Hopefully Aleisha Legg can get over next week.”
Beyond the Randwick Guineas, there are a host of options for Aegon, who has never been tried beyond a mile, including the Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m), Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) and Gr.1 Doncaster (1600m).
“The Randwick Guineas is the immediate target and we won’t make any decision as to where he goes until after that,” Forsman said.
“It is great for the New Zealand industry to show we can produce these horses, take them to Australia and compete. It makes our industry so relevant and it is a massive lift for us.” – NZ Racing Desk