Ellerslie has been a happy hunting ground for Andrew Forsman is years past, and the Cambridge trainer was thrilled to find success swiftly during the track’s reopening meeting on Sunday.
Of his five representatives, all but one finished in the top three, headlined by a classy front-running performance from Fortunate Son in the Bent Down On One Knee Ben Masters 1500m.
A three-year-old son of U S Navy Flag, Fortunate Son was a promising 1400m victor on debut at Arawa Park in November and relished the step-up in grade when splitting talented gallopers Snazzytavi and Tanganyika at Te Rapa a fortnight later.
Another challenge was set for the gelding at Ellerslie, contesting the likes of multiple Group One-placed filly Tulsi, and Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) placegetters in Talisker and To Catch A Thief, but jockey Joe Doyle took the race into his own hands early in proceedings. Fortunate Son set a leisurely pace out in front and looked ominous turning for home in a sit-and-sprint battle, eventually holding out a blanket of late-challengers headed by Tulsi to score by a head.
“He did have a few favours out in front, he had to work to get there from the wide draw, but Joe set a pretty sedate pace that allowed him to sprint hard off the turn. But, when you’re being chased down by some quality horses like he was, I thought it was a great effort to hold them off,” Forsman said.
“He did go into the race fresh, we’d given him a quiet time since his last start so it was good to get away with that and get such a strong win.”
Fortunate Son currently holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Trackside New Zealand Derby (2400m) in March, a race Forsman found dual-success in while training in partnership with Murray Baker, though the distance remains in question for the lightly-tried gelding.
“Perhaps we would look to the Derby now, I think he will get at least 2000m and he’ll improve from the run on Sunday. We’ll see where we get too but we may look to step up to middle distance in a couple of start’s time and go from there,” he said.
Fortunate Son was purchased by Aspen Thoroughbreds out of Curraghmore's 2022 Ready To Run draft for $70,000. -By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk