By Michael Guerin
Top trainer Andrew Forsman didn't get the birthday present he was hoping for yesterday and that makes the A$7.5million job for his star galloper Aegon this Saturday that much more difficult.
Forsman celebrated his 39th birthday working at the Cambridge trials but the present he wanted most was a good barrier draw for Aegon, who he parts owns as well as co-trains, in the Golden Eagle in Sydney on Saturday.
That did not happen. Aegon drew barrier 20 and if the emergencies come out of the four-year-old race he will start from 17 in the 18 horse field over 1500m at Rosehill.
"That is definitely not what we wanted," admitted Forsman.
"We would have liked a nice central gate but we have to work with what we have and I think the best thing we can hope for now is some rain.
"He would be able to handle a wet track and if it rained it might cut up the inside and change the complexion of the race.
"That and a hot tempo could help because if he gets back on a good track around Rosehill it is going to be a very tricky race."Had this race been run eight months ago Aegon would have probably been the pre-draw favourite but little has gone right for him since yet Forsman says his work at Cambridge before he flew to Sydney on Sunday was top class.
"He is flying and we couldn't be happier with him in that regard," he said.
"So we will go there and take our chances."Aegon was rated a $21 chance by the Australian bookies straight after the draw against a field that includes last-start Toorak winner I'm Thunderstruck (barrier 10), Epsom winner Private Eye (17) and Kiwi-owned mare Atishu (18).
While Aegon's draw hardly gave one of our most successful young trainers reasons to smile on his birthday, the stable's Melbourne Cup contender The Chosen One continues to please them a week out from the great race.
The Chosen One worked well under Damien Lane at Flemington yesterday and while he raced below his best in the Caulfield Cup last start little went right.
"On the whole he has been really good the whole campaign and every time Damien gets of him he is impressed with how he is working," said Forsman.
"So we are hoping for a good track and a handy draw so he doesn't have to do too much work to take up a spot.
"But a week out we are happy with him."
The Chosen One will be the only New Zealand-trained starter in the Melbourne Cup but will be joined in the race by Rotorua star Ocean Billy, who has joined Chris Waller's Victorian base for his spring campaign.
There will be more New Zealand firepower at Flemington on Derby Day this Saturday though with the Tony Pike-trained Tutakaka in the Victoria Derby and the Jamie Richards trio of Amarelinha, Kahma Lass and Sword Of State all contesting major races.