Mongolian Wings gets the perfect chance at Ellerslie to take a small step down the path that led his father to greatness.
The 3-year-old will try to make it three wins on end in the $50,000 Te Akau Gingernuts Salver at Ellerslie; the 2100m event the next race on the path to the Vodafone Derby, also at Ellerslie, on March 6.
Mongolian Wings' sire Mongolian Khan not only won that Derby but also the ATC Derby in Sydney as a 3-year-old before capturing the Caulfield Cup as a 4-year-old, making him one of the great modern Kiwi stayers. His son has a long way to go to equal dad but has started in the right fashion.
"He is doing a really good job from just a few starts," says co-trainer Andrew Forsman. "It gets more interesting from a Derby point of view when these horses come up against lots of other potential Derby contenders, so we will know more about him after Sunday.
"He is a different type of horse from Mongolian Khan, who we also trained. He is more neat, whereas Mongolian Khan was a big, strong horse, but he looks like he can stay.
"So from barrier one, he should get a good trip and be hard to beat."
It won't just be Forsman, training partner Murray Baker and the punters willing Mongolian Wings home.
So will breeders with sons and daughters of Mongolian Khan in the upcoming Karaka yearling sales, with his stock starting to win races at the right time for the Windsor Park stallion.
Meanwhile, the Murray Baker-Forsman stable star Aegon will warm up for the Karaka Classic Mile on January 23 with a trial at Matamata on Tuesday. He has not raced since remaining unbeaten in the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton two months ago and will go into his $1 million next assignment fresh.
"It is not ideal and not easy against horses with recent racing under their belts but he is well and looked fit when we galloped him between races the other day," Forsman told the Herald on Sunday.
Aegon remains the $2.20 favourite for the Classic Mile.
Sunday's Ellerslie meeting could even throw up a contender for favourite for the $1 million Karaka Million 2-year-old race after reigning favourite Palamos was withdrawn this week.
Horses such as On The Bubbles and Millefiori could tighten significantly for our richest 2-year-old race should they win race three today, a race that Te Akau has traditionally used as the last public blowout for Karaka Million winning chances, although the juvenile-training powerhouse has yet to establish a clear pecking order for this season's freshmen crop.
● Trainer John Bary admitted his overwhelming feeling was one of relief after he watched his stable star Callsign Mav lump topweight of 63kg to an emphatic victory over 1400m at Awapuni.
Bary had been looking for a performance that would indicate whether his Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) winner could be capable of getting beyond a sprint trip and received an affirmative answer.
Taken to the outside in the run home by rider Jonathan Riddell, Callsign Mav produced a superb finish under a hands-and-heels ride to reel in his opponents and go on to a clearcut victory.
"Relieved is the best way to describe how I feel," Bary said.
"I've said all along that he deserved the topweight, but weight can stop a train. I think he showed that he is a very good horse."
Bary now has some decisions to make about Callsign Mav's next options.
Also at Awapuni, exciting stayer Beauden returned to the scene of his 2020 triumph in the Listed Marton Cup (2200m) and made it back-to-back wins in the race.
"He's back to his best and we thought he would be hard to beat," co-trainer Graeme Rogerson said of the horse overcoming a white blood cell problem.
Beauden will now be set for the Wellington Cup (3200m) later this month.
- NZ Racing Desk