No, trainer Mark Forbes is not a household name in racing, but if he continues on his current upward spiral he might one day come close.
The debut win of Alvins Dream at Te Rapa on Saturday is indicative of the horsemanship of one of the industry's brightest young stars.
The 28-year-old Forbes has held a trainer's licence for just two seasons, but is no newcomer. He spent a decade as the yearling manager for Sir Patrick Hogan at Cambridge Stud, not a job you get as a dunce. Cambridge Stud's yearling record during that period explains everything.
His father Graeme Forbes was an apprentice jockey under Dave O'Sullivan and currently an assistant trainer with the highly successful Donna Logan, Chris Gibbs Ruakaka stable. His grandfather Rod Forbes rode successfully here after arriving from Australia and younger brother Alex was a highly successful apprentice here and in the tough Melbourne environment before weight got the better of him a handful of seasons back. Older brother Lance is currently at Coolmore Stud in Ireland on a New Zealand scholarship. And his uncle is one of our great former jockeys in Peter Tims. Yes, there is a touch of breeding there.
Mark Forbes produced the Smart Missile 3-year-old Smart Bronson to win first-up at a recent Ruakaka meeting and was his usual humble self after Alvins Dream downed a high class maiden field on debut at Te Rapa at the weekend.
How he came by the Ifraaj gelding from the Zabeel mare is interesting.
The youngster was purchased by HK-based former South African trainer Tony Millard, but he couldn't win a barrier trial with him in Melbourne which would have allowed him to take the horse to Hong Kong.
"I had a close relative also by Ifraaj that I thought a lot of, but he trialled and shattered a hind leg. This horse came on the market relatively cheaply so we made enquiries." Alvins Dream is now owned by his trainer's grandparents Gary and Caroline Tims, their longtime friend Ross McFarlane and trainer's younger brother Alex.
Forbes had Alvins Dream ready to go in late autumn, but had to wait for Saturday for a reasonable track. "I wasn't that happy with a slow 9, but that's better than most of the tracks we've been racing on." With the gelding being bred from a Zabeel mare, the waiting has been an advantage. "He looks to have come through this race well and there is a nice 1400m R65 race for him at the Taumaranui meeting, but the track will need to be reasonably good. Surely it will stop raining soon."
Forbes is excited to get high class 3-year-filly Royal Fashion back to the races when the tracks firm up.
"After 10 weeks work she weighs in at 570kg. She's a real unit - muscle on muscle. She might kick off fresh up in the Foxbridge Plate, but you won't see her at her best until tracks firm up properly. She needs it almost hard, the only time she was out of the money was when it rained the night before the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton." He is also tipping an upcoming victory for former English galloper Cosmic Storm, who has had two short course starts from the stable.
"Wait for the step up to 2000m."