The first Australian Group One race of the season signals the start of latest assault from the New Zealand training partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
Four horses from the stable arrived in Melbourne on Sunday with Australian Derby winner Jon Snow to be the first to step out in Saturday’s Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Group One winners Bonneval and Lizzie L’Amour begin their campaigns in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes a week later while Victoria Derby hopeful Weather With You resumes in a Sandown maiden on Wednesday.
“We’re lucky to have four really exciting chances to compete over there,” Forsman said from New Zealand.
“It’s never easy. The competition is very tough. But we think we’ve got four horses that can measure up.
“And Weather With You, the Derby.”
Jon Snow, to be ridden by Stephen Baster, is expected to take a weight-for-age path to his main targets and Forsman said they couldn’t be happier with his preparation.
“He’s coming up really well. He’s bigger and stronger,” he said.
“He improved a lot at the end of his last preparation and he’s going to have to improve again up against the older horses, but we’re hoping he has.”
Forsman said they were not expecting too much first-up but said it was a suitable kick off race for Jon Snow, who is at $41.
“We didn’t really want to run him first-up at a mile,” he said.
“We thought it would be better to get that run into him and then up to a mile second time I think he’s going to be much more competitive.”
The Memsie is $1 million this year and the star-studded field includes some specialist shorter course horses.
“I think there’s a few that have really targeted this race, and you can see why with the stake money,” Forsman said.
“He’s probably a run behind a fair few of them as there’s not many that are fresh-up into it. So he’s going to need the run a bit.
“He’s drawn 10 of 12 so he’s going to get an awkward sort of a run, so nothing really points towards him being competitive. Although we wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a cheeky race.”