By Ray Hickson
Whatever classy filly Luvaluva does for the rest of her three-year-old year, trainer John Sargent is adamant she’s going to be even better in the spring.
Sargent is known as a master trainer of staying fillies and mares and he’s long suspected Luvaluva could be the best of them yet.
A win in the Group 1 $500,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday, her final lead up to next month’s Australian Oaks, will go a long way to confirming that opinion.
“She probably has a bit more scope than others I’ve had - and I’ve had some good ones,’’ Sargent said.
“She’ll have this one and the Oaks and then I think you’ll see a decent four-year-old in the spring.
“A lot of them don’t go on with it but she has never had any injury problems. There’s no little niggles and that’s an advantage going forward.
“She’s a big filly and by the spring there’ll be more of her.’’
Luvaluva proves too strong over the mile at Kembla Grange on March 16
When you consider Sargent trained the last horse to beat Winx – Gust Of Wind in the 2015 Australian Oaks – as well as Victorian Oaks winner Kirramosa and Queensland Oaks winner Quintessential it’s a reasonable rap.
Luvaluva won the Wakeful Stakes in the spring before running fourth in the Victorian Oaks behind Pinot and she’s proven to Sargent in her two runs back that she’s taken significant steps forward.
She ran an eye-catching sixth behind Kementari in the Hobartville Stakes (1400m) before taking out the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) two weeks ago.
Punters Intel data revealed just how well the filly performed there – she was the only horse in the race to break 35 for the last 600m (34.99) and the only horse to better 12 second for the last 200m (11.83).
“I couldn’t be happier, she’s gone ahead since the last run so the 2000m should be right up her alley,’’ he said.
“Winning at Kembla is an indication of how well she’s done. This time she’s matured a bit more mentally and physically since the spring and she showed that winning at a mile.
“After racing in Melbourne I stayed there a bit longer rather than bringing her straight back. It seems to have suited her better, she got over the two races in five days and she spelled well hence having a horse to work with.’’
Luvaluva opened $6 in the Vinery Stud Stakes with TAB but is the current favourite, also at $6, for the James Boag’s Australian Oaks (2400m) on April 14.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy put the filly through her paces on Tuesday morning and the work, including a last 600m of 36.7, left Sargent beaming.
“Kerrin was very happy with her and she pulled up clean winded and good as gold,’’ he said.
“She has a tricky gate but it is a good run down the side and we don’t go out and be real handy so if he can slot in somewhere midfield it’d be nice.
“It’s up to Kerrin but the beauty is he knows her and we just hope there’s a true pace.’’