Quite often trainers tend to talk about luck but anyone who has ever had anything to do with horseracing will tell you it’s got more to do with the strong willed having faith in cause and effect.
Enter Cambridge co-trainers Murray Baker and his younger charge, Andrew Forsman, who are proof that their good fortune is a residue of preparation before the final leg of the Bostock New Zealand Spring Racing Carnival in Hastings today.
Although Forsman won’t be here today their stable of thoroughbreds is enough to make anyone miss a heartbeat or two.
In the marquee group one $250,000 Livamol Classic race, starting at 4.35pm, the pair has Lizzie L’Amour (jockey Matthew Cameron) in barrier 1, Tomelilla (Jonathan Riddell) in barrier 6 and Saint Emilion (Leith Innes) in barrier 8 of the 2040m weight-for-age race for stayers.
If that’s not enough, rivals must cast a cursory glance at the fields in the group two Sacred Falls Hawke’s Bay Guineas at 2.50pm to find little respite.
It’s Cutadeel (Riddell) in barrier 4, Thomas Aquinas (Michael Coleman) in barrier 10, Madison County (Cameron) barrier 12 and Qiji Express in barrier 13 for the self-made men although Lisa Latta’s line up can’t be ignored – Sir Nate (Johnathan Parkes) in barrier 5, Platinum Mam’selle (Chris Johnson) barrier 8 and Princess Amelie (apprentice Ryan Elliot) in barrier 16, if presence counts for anything.
So how does all that stack up? Is it simply a case of the “super trainers” covering as many permuations as possible?
“We’re lucky to have a few good horses to be able to get in there, really, says Forsman. “I mean they are all individuals so you place them in the best race that suits them in the hope they can compete.”
The 35-year-old analyses Saint Emilion, for argument’s sake, who comes across as a journeyman who is progressively getting better over the distance and classic savvy.
“He’s an older horse that has won now 13 or 14 races, which means to run a weight race suits him because he carries effectively the set weight,” he says, adding the 7-year-old son of Mastercraftsman is an on-pace runner which adds to the gelding’s other attributes required to outclass the others in a field of 13.
Lizzie L’Amour has had one fewer win in the last five outings and a runner-up placing so what’s the drift there, Forsman? “She’s a little bit behind the eight ball, as far as fitness goes, because she’s only had the one run leading into this so she was a little bit disappointing the other day in Hastings in her first-up run but she’s improving with it,” he says of the 6-year-old mare who finished 12th out of 14 in the 1600m group one Windsor Park Plate from barrier 8 on September 22.
The daughter of Zabeel is partial towards a softer track and Forsman anticipates the watering process here will work in her favour with even a good 3 today. “Hopefully that’s not an issue with a track that’s too firm because she’s drawn well … so if she runs her best she’ll be up to winning it.”
Consistency appears to be the name of the game for Tomelilla and, boy oh boy, does she demand attention having left everyone for dead at the $50,000 listed 1600m dash in the Haunui Farm Karaka Classic in Pukekohe on September 23.
“She is in very good form but she’s probably been racing in lesser company than she strives to in her first go at this level while the other two have proven that she hasn’t had a go yet,” he says of the 6-year-old Tavistock mare with a few question marks.
As for barriers, Forsman says they have been blessed with good luck although it doesn’t matter with Saint Emilion who has a tendency to lead.
He and Baker, 72, have no preferences on who they’d like to win but the latter’s wife, Maryanne, and Greg Jones co-own Tomelilla, who was bought as a $15,000 yearling and has earned more than $200,000.
Forsman while covering their bases is part of the blueprint they hadn’t intended to have that line up at the start of the season and it appears to have panned out that way.
“It’s just a matter of the horses are in form and the timing’s right then that’s why they have ended up in these races.”
Saint Emilion, he feels, is the best suited to etch their names on the silverware but if the track’s too firm it’ll go against him.
“On ability Lizzie L’Amour is probably the more brilliant of the three, as far as out-and-out breeding goes, but perhaps Saint Emilion is best suited to the race conditions, more so than her.”
On the other hand, Tomelilla has had several races leading into the classic while the other two have had one.
Interestingly enough, neither of the pair have won the classic in six years in tandem with several group ones but Baker has won it when it was the million-dollar Kelt Capital Classic in 2002 on Prized Gem.
Forsman agrees with the bookmakers in reckoning Savvy Coup, under the tutelage of Michael and Matthew Pitman, is the one to beat when Chris Johnson charges out with the mare from barrier 7.
“It’s stating the obvious but she was certainly unlucky the last time,” he says of the 4-year-old daughter of Savabeel who finished fifth and second in the group one Tarzino Trophy and Windsor Park Plate, respectively.
Matamata trainer Jamie Richards is on track for a personal treble with Our Abbadean (Opie Bosson) in barrier 12, after a double whammy success with Melody Belle (Shafiq Rusof) in the first two legs.
In the Guineas, Forsman attests to a you-have-to-be-in-it-to-win philosophy .
“Theoretically one of them will get a good run so on ability they are there for a reason because they are good enough so if they get a good run they’ll be in with a chance.”
He hastens to add it’s never easy no matter who trains them so Latta’s line up comes under similar probabilities.
Forsam says Baker is the senior presence between them but at this time of the year they’ve been taking turns with horses to Melbourne.
“We have six horses racing over there so it helps ease the load a little bit,” says the younger trainer who left on Thursday for Melbourne.
“I’m very lucky to have someone like him to feed off and learn from.”
He doesn’t expect Baker to “train forever” but Forsman anticipates his senior partner will make his decision in the next couple of years in what should be a “natural progression” for him to go solo.
Forsman hopes he’ll have done enough by then to make a fist of assuming the mantle of a position that Baker is filling with aplomb.