Mustang Valley on the hunt for more Group 1 success

Mustang Valley
Mustang Valley will contest the Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie on Saturday. Photo: Trish Dunell

Mustang Valley will be out to prove her class when attempting a first Group One title on Good track conditions on Saturday at Ellerslie.

The dual Group One-winning mare made a strong impression fresh-up over 1400m, finishing a narrow second in a contest featuring Fashion Shoot (first), Karman Line (fourth) and Maria Farina (fifth), the trio now set to face off in the Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m).

“It was a great effort resuming, she just had to give away a fair bit of weight and was a bit vulnerable first-up,” Forsman said.

“I couldn’t have been happier with how she went. She just missed the bob and she’ll improve a lot for it.”

Mustang Valley earned her second elite-level crown over the mile in a rain-affected Arrowfield Stud Plate last September, an unlikely fate for Ellerslie’s StrathAyr track, where the Breeders’ was rescheduled in the absence of Te Aroha.

Forsman is under no illusion about the daughter of Vanbrugh’s affinity with heavy tracks, where all six of her career victories have come, but opted to remain on this side of the Tasman on Saturday with the appeal of weight-for-age conditions.

“When the Breeders’ was moved to Ellerslie, we weren’t quite sure if it would be the right option for her or not. Ellerslie is a relatively firm track, and she operates better on rain-affected ground such as Te Aroha, but it wasn’t to be,” Forsman said.

“We just weighed up whether to run here or head to the Emancipation Stakes (Group 2, 1500m) at Rosehill, but we thought we’ll keep her here for one more run, being a weight-for-age Group One where we feel she is a strong top-three chance.

“Whatever happens on Saturday, it is ideally setting her up for the last day of the Championships in the Queen Of The Turf (Group 1, 1600m).”

The Cambridge horseman has engaged the mare’s Arrowfield Stud Plate-winning jockey Joe Doyle and hopes to see her in a midfield position from barrier two.

“I think there’s a bit of speed in the race drawn outside of her, so we’ll be positive as Ellerslie is not a track that you want to be too far back, or leave too much to do,” Forsman said.

“We’ll be looking to hold a spot midfield or just ahead, they’ll run at a steady enough clip, and if she’s in that position she’ll get her chance.”

Victory would also provide Forsman with his first in the race in a solo capacity, having triumphed with Nicoletta (2019), Charmont (2017) and Diademe (2015) whilst in partnership with Murray Baker.

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