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Oaks Ahoy For Sargent If Filly Lands Adrian Knox

By Ray Hickson

The ‘low road’ has proven a successive Oaks formula as recently as last year and trainer John Sargent hopes to use it to effect with promising filly Land Ahoy at Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer John Sargent (Pic: Steve Hart).

A Newcastle Class 1 and Canberra benchmark win serve as Land Ahoy’s lead in to the Group 3 $200,000 TAB Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) - a couple of provincial wins is a similar platform used by last year’s Adrian Knox and Australian Oaks winner Colette.

Sargent said his filly still has some filling out to do but the style of her two wins over a mile tell him there’s a sense of timing about her.

“She’s a progressive staying filly and I think she will get the trip,’’ he said.

“We’ve gone the back way to the Oaks but she’s going in on an upward plane. It’s about getting them there at the right time.

“If she runs well in the Adrian Knox she’ll be a good chance in the Oaks.”

Sargent won the race in 2018 with his former smart filly Luvaluva but she didn’t fire a week later. He famously won the Oaks in 2015 with Gust Of Wind, the last horse to defeat Winx.

Alysha Collett retains the ride on Land Ahoy, $19 with TAB on Thursday and $26 in Saturday week’s Australian Oaks, and Sargent said the delay to the carnival has allowed him to space her runs.

“I’m very happy with this horse. She still looks a weak type of three-year-old filly but she seems to be getting better every week and the extra week the Championships were put back will suit her,’’ he said.

“It was a nice win last start, she got lost on the turn and came out to the middle of the track and got up late. But she is learning now to attack the line so that should help.’’

Of course Sargent is represented in two of the four Group 1s on the Day 1 of The Star Championships headed by his talented youngster Four Moves Ahead in the $1m Inglis Sires’ (1400m).

The filly was gallant in the Golden Slipper, finishing fourth, and Sargent said barrier two will enable her to be right on the speed at a trip he’s confident she’s looking for.

“That month between runs in the testing ground just got to her to finish it off in the Slipper,’’ he said.

“It was a good game run. It’s another chance at a Group 1 win for the owners.”

Prior to the Golden Slipper, Sargent said he felt Four Moves Ahead, $5.50 with TAB, would excel as a three-year-old in races out to a mile so is looking forward to seeing what she produces.

“She’s bred to get the trip like (half-sister) Emeralds and she’ll run on speed and relax now she has had that run,’’ he said.

“She’s back into the game and she should be right there.”

Favreau ($14) is on the back-up after running fourth in the Tulloch Stakes (2000m) last week into the Group 1 $2m Bentley Australian Derby (2400m) and Sargent warned he shouldn’t be underestimated.


Land Ahoy wins at Canberra on March 17

An improving track after 24mm of rain on Wednesday night is in his favour and Tommy Berry, who won on the gelding at Kembla two starts ago, is back on board.

“James (McDonald) thought that run will top him off and if it is a gruelling 2400m he showed he will be in it but it could be anyone’s race,’’ Sargent said.

“He seems full of himself and it hasn’t taken a lot out of him.”

Berry said he gave Favreau a pass mark after watching his Tulloch run but said he’s a promising stayer who is capable of figuring if he gets any luck in running from the outside gate.

“I thought he was okay but I’m still going into the race with confidence,’’ Berry said.

“He’s trained by a trainer who is very good at winning Derbies and Oaks so I’m confident he will run well. The gate makes it a bit tougher but if we can get into a good a nice spot early he’s in with a good chance.”

All the fields, form and replays for Day 1 of The Star Championships at Royal Randwick

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