Forsman thriving under solo banner

By Dennis Ryan

19 Oct 2022

Forsman thriving under solo bannerMr Maestro lands the middle leg of Andrew Forsman’s momentous hat-trick with victory in the Caulfi

Andrew Forsman would be the first to admit he received a saloon passage to his solo training career after two decades working alongside Hall of Famer Murray Baker, but in no way does that lessen the significance of what the Cambridge horseman achieved last Saturday.
Already credited with 25 Group One wins during his 10-year partnership with Baker, Forsman made the quantum leap to stand-alone Group One-winning trainer when Mustang Valley made no race of the Livamol Classic at Hastings. Bracketing that milestone, his three wins on the Caulfield Cup programme belonged in the league of the very best Australian-based trainers.
Forsman’s hat-trick was headed by Mr Maestro, whose Gr. 3 Caulfield Classic win cemented favouritism for next week’s Victoria Derby, while Saint Bathans continued his rise through the grades in Benchmark 80 company and stable favourite Aegon broke an 18-month drought with a trademark photo-finish win in the Gr. 3 Moonga Stakes.
The 39-year-old, whose career in racing began as a Trackside TV cameraman supplemented by part-time work with Baker Racing, is nothing if not modest, something that is again evident in his reflections on last weekend.
“It was very satisfying and humbling when you consider all the hard work to get through the long grind of winter and land where we are now,” Forsman told RaceForm. “Days like that don’t just happen; none of it would be possible without everyone doing their bit.”
Forsman was ready to take over the Cambridge operation established by Baker when he moved north in 2000, having been forewarned by the trainer renowned for his regular sorties to major Australian carnivals that retirement was nigh. Early this year Baker announced he had set that date at the end of April and then it was up to Forsman to make it work.
“I had been prepared for a little while and it was pretty straightforward, but it still meant getting my head around the actual running of the business,” he recalls. “Apart from that the main things were maintaining the same staff and my owners sticking by me.
“It’s obviously hard holding onto horses when you see what’s on offer in Australia – the level of investment over there is on a far greater scale than here – but to their credit the bulk of the stable clientele stuck with me.”
In return, and implementing a Baker-led formula that has stood the test of time, Forsman committed to campaigning in Australia with the right horse. Now in the thick of the Victorian spring carnival the evidence is inarguable that, like his mentor who holds the record for Australian Group One wins by a New Zealand-based trainer, he has got it right.
The Forsman contingent has lined up 13 times for seven wins – four of them at Group level –and placings that include a third by She’s Licketysplit in the Gr. 1 Thousand Guineas. Mr Maestro is now the dominant favourite for the Gr. 1 Victoria Derby and on the same opening card of Melbourne Cup week, She’s Licketysplit will take on fellow Kiwi La Crique in the Gr. 1 Empire Rose Stakes.
There are also big Flemington targets being considered for Aegon and White Noise, who was set to join the team this week, while there’s every likelihood that Mustang Valley’s campaign will extend to a Melbourne sortie.
“The systems that I got to know so well during my years with Murray haven’t changed,” says Forsman. “That includes identifying horses with the ability to send across and making the most of the available transport options.
“You take Aegon for example – we saw what we thought was a suitable race at Caulfield, he only got into Melbourne last Wednesday and was up to winning on Saturday.”
Where Forsman does differ from his mentor is the evolution of his client base, which includes a greater reliance on sales graduates.
“Murray had long-standing clients, many of them breeders, who kept him supplied with horses, whereas I’ve gone down the road of heading to the sales with the backing of clients.”
A prime example of that model is the Zame family, who backed Forsman’s judgement in purchasing ATC Derby winner Jon Snow and New Zealand 2000 Guineas and Karaka 3YO Mile winner Aegon from the National Sale. Another is Mr Maestro, who also came via the Karaka yearling ring.
“He was a Savabeel colt I was naturally attracted to as we had trained his mother and she was a half-sister to Lion Tamer, who we won the Victoria Derby and Underwood Stakes with. On the sale grounds I met John Stubbs and we agreed that we both liked the same colt in the Windsor Park draft, so he and his group agreed to stand back and let me do the bidding.
“We got him for $100,000, which at the time I thought was good value, and it certainly is now. He reminds me a lot of Lion Tamer and it would be great if he could also win the Derby next week.
“Like anything in this game you can never count on it, but along with what the other members of the team are doing, it’s a great position to be in.”