Racing: Forbes has winning opportunity

By Mike Dillon

Alex Forbes (right). Photo / Sarah Ivey
Alex Forbes (right). Photo / Sarah Ivey

Apprentice Alex Forbes will have his first New Zealand ride in four months at Avondale this afternoon.

In January the 17-year-old transferred his apprenticeship to Bart Cummings' long-time former head man Leon Corstens in Melbourne.

He has returned to New Zealand specifically to ride at the eight-race programme for apprentices at Te Awamutu on Monday, but has taken the opportunity to take mounts at Avondale and at the Cambridge Jockey Club's meeting at Te Rapa on Saturday.

"I was suspended for a week and a half so I took the opportunity to come home early to see my family," he said yesterday.

Forbes has ridden 19 winners in Melbourne and says he has learned a lot regularly riding against the likes of Craig Williams, Glen Boss and Luke Nolan.

"If you keep your eyes open you can't help but pick up things from riders of that quality.

"I rate Bossy [Glen] the best I've ridden against."

Forbes says he quickly noticed the difference between New Zealand racing and the pressure of competing at the top level in Australia.

"One of the winners I rode at Moonee Valley one night the owner had A$30,000 ($36,400) on it.

"I'm pleased I didn't know about how much he had on it until after the race.

"One of the big thrills has been riding all the trackwork on a horse for the boss. He was starting a new preparation and I rode him every morning then won first-up on him at $10."

Forbes' first ride today is on Fonda You in Race 2 and victory would be appropriate - and deserved.

He rode the horse in its debut for the Frank Ritchie stable this time last year and after leading up at Ellerslie he was run down by Dundeel, who as It's A Dundeel has lately captured everything in Australia.

Two starts later he was unlucky in a race at Ruakaka, won by last Saturday's A$2 million Doncaster victor Sacred Falls.

Fonda You went a nice race to finish just behind the placegetters when recently resuming at Paeroa.

His other rides are Take Charge, Hughes That Girl and Madly Bently, all of whom have great recent form and Cassius, whose trainer Davina Waddell says is a better chance than the horse's form reads.

Further south, Dubai Belle has a proud record at Awapuni and she is poised to make further winning use of her home track advantage today.

The 5-year-old has won three times on the course, including a career best performance last spring to defeat the well-performed Amberio in the Merial Ancare Metric Mile.

Dubai Belle will attempt to add another black type credit to her CV for trainer Tony Bambry in the Manawatu ITM Anzac 1600, the feature event on the Feilding card.

She showed she was on the verge of a return to winning form when a second-up fourth in the New Zealand Bloodstock Manawatu Breeders' Stakes behind the in-form O'Fille.

"It was a good effort as she'd only had the one run over 1400m and Robbie [Hannam] thought that if the track had been a bit softer she would have been a winning chance," Bambry said.

Hannam will continue his association with Dubai Belle, who has won four of her six races on heavy ground.

- Additional reporting, NZ Racing Desk

- NZ Herald

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