By Ray Hickson
John Sargent has been waiting 43 years to train a Golden Slipper winner so what’s an extra week when you have a filly like Four Moves Ahead.
The Randwick trainer is certainly no stranger to finding a Group 1 winning two-year-old, he produced a string of them in New Zealand around a decade ago, but his major successes in Australia have been with staying fillies.
Remember, he trained Gust Of Wind whose victory in the 2015 Australian Oaks was the last time we saw Winx defeated on a racecourse.
In Four Moves Ahead, his first runner in the Group 1 $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill and the only unbeaten two-year-old in the race, he sees something special.
Not just in her ability but in the way she’s been able to bounce through the minor issues like a cold and her well-publicised knee knock that have interrupted her Slipper bid.
“She seems right there in the zone,’’ Sargent said.
“It’s been a rollercoaster but if she’s there at her best she will show the fillies are as good as the colts.
“When you’ve been in the game 43 years you’re used to waiting. It’d be good to go and tick that box. I’m sure she won’t go down without a fight and will do her best.”
Sargent praised the Randwick Polytrack for taking on the workload this week in the face of the rain that made grass track gallops impossible and said it won’t have any effect on the chances of Four Moves Ahead who loves the surface.
Jockey Nash Rawiller rode her on Tuesday morning and he will ride the filly 0.5kg over her allotted 54.5kg.
“I was very happy with her gallop, she had a good hitout too not just a quiet hitout, so she is right there where we want her,’’ Sargent said.
“We’d be lost without the Polytrack, it was the best thing they’ve ever put in. They had inches and inches and inches and it drains so well.
“She gallops a lot on there anyway so she’s very used to it, it didn’t matter to her, it’s a lovely track and it’s not hard on their legs.”
As for Rawiller’s permission to ride overweight in a Golden Slipper, Sargent said he’d prefer the jockey to be feeling strong mentally and physically and is adamant it won’t impact the filly’s chances.
“I said to him ‘if you feel you’re doing it hard wasting don’t worry because we’re getting 2kg off the colts’,’’ he said.
“If he feels better to do it I’m happy, he’s just got to be in the zone himself, and it wouldn’t be a worry if he had to take a kilo.
“The best two-year-old in the land wins the race and that’s the way it is.”
Four Moves Ahead wins at Randwick on February 27
Four Moves Ahead, one of only five fillies in the Slipper, was on the third line of betting with TAB at $5.50 on Thursday.
She’ll jump from barrier nine in the 15 horse field, with the scratching of O’President, and Sargent said she proved in winning the Sweet Embrace Stakes four weeks ago she’s strong and a drying track plays in her favour too despite winning on debut on a heavy track.
“If she can stalk the leaders, and if it gets into a real fight, I’m sure she will put her ears back and do her best,’’ he said.
“It’s going to be better than a slog through a heavy track. She mightn’t have handled it last week, her half-sister Emeralds doesn’t like it really heavy but she does like it wet.
“The Kenso heavy is completely different to Rosehill, it’s a Strathayr track and they don’t go in as far.”