Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman sees a simple equation for his classy mare Mustang Valley ahead of Saturday’s Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m), the wetter the better.
The daughter of Vanbrugh resumed this campaign with an eye-catching sixth in the Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) finishing less than two lengths from victor Dragon Leap, and produced a dominant winning performance at Taranaki a fortnight ago when Forsman elected to bypass the first of the Hastings features (Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy, 1400m) with the mare.
“She’s improved a lot since Taranaki, she was only second-up so fitness-wise she’s pretty well spot-on now going up to a mile,” Forsman said.
The Hastings track was rated a Heavy10 on Wednesday morning, with rain forecast for Saturday, and Forsman wouldn’t mind seeing the track remain in a heavy state for his versatile five-year-old.
“The wetter the better for her. She handles most tracks whereas that makes it harder for a lot of her opposition,” he said.
“On a rain-affected track she’s a real winning chance.”
Mustang Valley was runner-up to race rival La Crique in the second leg of the Hastings Triple Crown last year, before scoring a dominant win in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m), and notably recorded an impressive fifth in the Gr.1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick in April behind superstar New Zealand-bred miler Mr Brightside.
The mare will face a star-studded field, with six other Group One winners, including the likes of Sharp ’N’ Smart and Legarto, however, Forsman will have the advantage of Premiership-leading hoop Joe Doyle aboard his charge, who is aiming for a third stakes victory this season.
“Joe came in and galloped her on Tuesday morning for her last serious bit of work and he was happy with her,” Forsman said.
The TAB bookmakers have opened the Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) market as a two-horse race between Mustang Valley ($2.80) and Legarto ($2.40), their nearest counterpart being winter track specialist Justaskme ($11.00).
The stable will be also represented at Te Rapa on Friday with six runners, including in-form galloper Turn The Ace in a competitive Fluid Power Distributors Mile (1600m).
Te Rapa has been a happy hunting ground for the Turn Me Loose five-year-old, with five of his seven career victories coming at the Waikato venue.
“He’s in great form, he was beaten by a tough winner last time but he was five weeks between runs so I think he’ll be fitter this time, and back on the slightly slower track should help him as well,” Forsman said.
Good Oil will look to continue his consistent run of form in the Marsh Racing 2100, recording a victory and a close second since resuming at Te Rapa in August and will be assisted by apprentice Elen Nicholas’ two-kilogram claim.
“He’s in really good form, it was a brave effort over the middle distance last start and he races well at Te Rapa so he should be competitive,” he said.
Forsman will also prepare three-year-old filly Eloise for her second-up run in the BCD Group 3YO 1400, however, stablemate Satin Doll is highly unlikely to start from a tough barrier draw.
“Eloise is a nice filly with a good pedigree as well, but she might take a race or two to figure things out,” he said.
The Cambridge trainer has two other runners at the Te Rapa meeting, with Westwood resuming in the Fluid Power Distributions 1200 following a consistent run of placings in her three-year-old season, and Proisir mare The Queen Bee in the Craig Investments Partners 1400.
Meanwhile, Forsman was pleased to kick off what he hopes will be a successful week across the North Island with a victory at Cambridge Synthetic on Wednesday, taking out the Cambridge Equine Hospital 1550 with Styx.
The daughter of Time Test settled back in the field under Michael McNab, cruising up to the leaders nearing the home turn and fought hard to out-sprint race-favourite Highly Vindicated to score by a long neck.
“It was a game win, she’s just been a bit slow to mature but she’s got a really pedigree and now she’s a winner which is a bonus,” Forsman said.