Aegon lands 2000 Guineas in grandstand finish

Aegon
Aegon (inner) defeats Bourbonaire in a desperate finish to the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton Photo Credit: Race Images South

In what was a carbon copy of the finish to the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) back in September, unbeaten three-year-old Aegon defeated Bourbonaire in a thrilling finish to the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.

The Cambridge gallopers had fought out a terrific battle in the Hastings contest, that went in favour of Aegon and it was déjà vu on Saturday as the pair went to the line at Riccarton locked together. Once again, the photo-finish camera found a slight margin in favour of the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Aegon as the gelding emulated the deeds of his late father Sacred Falls, who was also unbeaten when taking out the 2010 edition of the blue riband event.

Forsman, who shares in the ownership of the horse with the Zame family after purchasing him for $150,000 from the Waikato Stud draft at the 2019 Book 1 Yearling Sale at Karaka, was relieved to see his charge get the nod. “I didn’t know whether he had won or not, so it’s just starting to sink in,” he said. “They were going so slowly (in front) and he was in a tricky spot so I was worried but Leith (Innes) had a lot of confidence in him. “It’s pretty special and really hasn’t hit home yet but I’m just rapt to race the horse with a great bunch of people. “It’s been a great ride the whole way through.”

The Zame family, who operate a fishing business in Gisborne, have had plenty of success over the last few years, racing the likes of Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) winner Jon Snow and Listed Futurity Stakes (1400m) winner Rhaegar.

All three horses were identified and purchased as yearlings by Forsman, and Bart Zame said the partnership owes its success to Forsman’s keen eye. “We have managed to hitch ourselves to someone that seems to know what they are doing and seems to know it pretty well,” Zame said. “That’s all Andrew Forsman, he is very selective in what he has a crack at and you can see it showing in his strike-rate.”

Innes, who looked as cool as a cucumber throughout, was confident he had got the better of Bourbonaire on the line. “I just had no negatives the whole way,” he said. “We were in a tricky spot but I was just so confident and had so much faith in him. “I thought he had his head down at the right time (at the finish) but he carries his head low anyway so that probably helped him.

“It’s just amazing that eight years ago I won the race on Sacred Falls and today I could do it on a horse that is pretty similar in nature. “They both aren’t very big but they put in one hundred percent and they know where the line is.”

Sacred Falls went on to win three times at Group 1 level in Australia before commencing stud duties at Waikato Stud in 2015 where he stood for five years before his untimely death in December 2019.

Aegon becomes Sacred Falls’ first Group 1 winner after three-year-old filly Salto Angel went so close to claiming that honour when finishing runner-up in Thursday’s Group 1 VRC Oaks (2500m) at Flemington. Out of the Zabeel mare Toss Up, Aegon has won all three career starts and over $329,000 in prizemoney.

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