By Ray Hickson
A month between runs is just the tonic talented three-year-old Aegon needed to ensure he produces his best in Saturday’s Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
That’s the verdict from co-trainer Andrew Forsman after examining the gelding’s shock failure as favourite in the Randwick Guineas where he lost his unbeaten record and left everyone wondering what to make of it.
Forsman, who co-trains with Murray Baker, has been in Sydney for a week now and is confident what he’s seeing in Aegon measures up with the lead in to his previous five starts so is anticipating a return to his best.
“I didn’t see him going into the Randwick Guineas so I can’t really comment on how he was going into that race so that’s the difficult thing,’’ Forsman said.
“But everything about him reminds me of how he was going into other races before. That positive from our point of view.
“It was a bit of a flat run from him in the Guineas, he didn’t have any dash about him at all. He has raced on firm tracks at home so I’m not convinced it was anything to do with the track.
“I think at this stage of his career he's best kept a bit fresh.”
Aegon, $12 with TAB on Friday, will need a gun ride from Kerrin McEvoy because Forsman said as smart as he is the horse still isn’t the complete package.
He’s rapt with drawing in the first half of the field and expects with the soft conditions he’ll be able to produce a turn of foot such as he did when easily winning the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at his Sydney debut in February.
“He’s not a real robust type of horse so he’s quite immature,’’ Forsman said.
“You look at the weights (53kg) and how close he is to some of those seasoned older horses so it’s not going to be easy for him.
“He’s good enough if he gets the right run. He’s not the sort of horse that is going to take a heap of buffeting from a big horse or be bustled around too much.
“If he can do no work, get his run and they run it at a genuine tempo then he should be competitive.”
McEvoy took the opportunity to partner Aegon to a narrow barrier trial win at Warwick Farm on April 1 and said it was encouraging to get a sense for the horse.
He said he would have preferred it be a grass track trial but otherwise the horse seemed happy and healthy.
“Is his form good enough to compete against our older milers? I’m not sure, but we are going to give it a crack,’’ McEvoy said.
“He doesn’t mind a bit of juice in the ground, it’s all heading towards him having his chance to show his wares.”
While Murray Baker hasn’t yet won a Doncaster Mile, he’s well versed in how to win an Australian Derby and The Frontman will be out to hand the trainer his sixth and third in partnership with Forsman after Quick Thinker (2020) and Jon Snow (2017).
Aegon wins the Hobartville Stakes on February 20
Forsman had high hopes for The Frontman, who ran third in the New Zealand Derby at his fourth race start, but was let down by the colt’s battling eighth in last week’s Tulloch Stakes.
He started $5.50 last weekend but is now considered only a rough chance at $26 with Hugh Bowman retaining the ride.
“I was very disappointed, it was a flat run for whatever reason,’’ he said.
“He over raced quite badly in the first half of the race and that makes it hard, he did that a bit in our Derby but at least he was out and doing his own thing whereas on Saturday he was on the rail and being dictated to and I don’t think he liked it.
“He’s a very fit horse it’s just a matter of him getting things to suit in the run.
“Hugh said after the line he couldn’t stop him, he wanted to keep going again, maybe he’s being a bit quirky in that regard but all we can do is line him up and hope he can get back to his best form.”