By Ray Hickson
There are so many options for talented filly Emeralds in the new season and trainer John Sargent has a sole focus of earning black type but he has her up and going early to work out when and where that will happen.
Sargent said he’s not exactly sure whether Emeralds is best suited up to a mile or to something shorter so how she performs first-up in the De Bortoli Wines Handicap (1100m) at Kensington on Saturday will tell him more.
It’s safe to say the Benchmark 74 race in July is the ‘easiest’ race she’s seen since September having tackled the likes of Funstar, Flit, Nettoyer and company.
“I think it was the best crop of three-year-olds Australasia has had in a long time, a phenomenal crop, and you could easily name 10 that could be in the Golden Eagle,’’ Sargent said.
“I gave her three months out and I want to get her going early to try and get some black type with the carnival coming up.
“I want to get another win into her and then we can look around for a race for her. I’ll weigh it up after Saturday and see if (a stakes race) will be second-up or third-up, I haven’t done any planning yet.’’
The $7.5m Golden Eagle is not likely to be a target for Emeralds at this stage, unless she earns that stakes win first, and it’s more likely that fillies and mares Group races are on the agenda.
Sargent suspects Emeralds, $5.50 second favourite with TAB, is probably at her best around 1400m but said she has his filly reasonably fit with two trials under her belt and is keen for jockey Louise Day to make use of an inside alley.
While Emeralds plummets in class for her return, having bled in the Aspiration Quality in March, she still faces the fact that 1100m might be short of her best and will need to knock over a smart, race fit, filly in Tailleur.
“She went back a lot last time because she drew wide a lot so it’s best to go back,’’ Sargent said.
“We haven’t rushed her in her trials and I’ll be instructing Louise to use her a bit, we don’t want to be four back the fence but a couple back.
“I’d prefer 1200m but it is her home track and she has a good draw and a claim.
“The trials have told me she’s right up to the mark, her first trial was nice and easy then I asked Louise to stretch her out in the last 100m. She’s shown that she has come back, she’s not 100 per cent fit but fit to run a good race.’’
Sargent has high hopes for lightly raced stayer Home Ground who has his second run since returning from Hong Kong, where he didn’t race, in the Schweppes Handicap (1800m).
A stakes winner at three, in the Geelong Classic prior to running fifth in the 2018 Victoria Derby, Home Ground returned from that long absence with a gutsy fifth over 1550m on the Kensington track on July 1.
Hollywood Dreaming wins at Murwillumbah on July 2
The gelding was formerly owned by Hong Kong interests but is now under the Sargent name and the trainer is adamant he’ll be very competitive with Tom Sherry's 3kg claim.
“What he did the other day was a big bonus and he’s improved. He was caught wide in the open with a big weight and it was short of his best,’’ Sargent said.
“He is a lot bigger and stronger than what he was when I had him as a three-year-old. He should run a big race and I give him a good chance.’’
Long term Sargent hopes the four-year-old, $8 with TAB, could develop into a Newcastle Cup/Metropolitan type in the spring and it’s just a suspicion he could be half a run short, after such a long time off, for Saturday that keeps the confidence in check.
“I would have thought he’d be shorter in the market but it is probably because of that,’’ he said.
“They might surprise you first-up then go a bit dour second-up but he seems to have trained on well and I can’t find any excuses.’’