By Ray Hickson
Trainer John Sargent is more than happy to forgive stable star Brandenburg for a first-up failure and is confident he can get his spring back on track at Randwick on Saturday.
With a Melbourne trip off the agenda due to the quarantine restrictions for humans, Sargent is setting his sights on the $7.5m Golden Eagle in six weeks and the Group 3 $160,000 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) is an important stepping stone.
Brandenburg hasn’t raced for a month since he finished tenth in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m).
“The owners want to aim for the Golden Eagle so that’s why I’ve spaced his run out,’’ Sargent said.
“It’s all right to send them down for a run or two but when they are out of your care, unless you have your own staff there, it’s not that easy. So we’re happy to stay here.
“He’ll have this run then into either the Silver Eagle or the Epsom.”
Sargent said the fact Brandenburg raced close to what was a strong tempo left him vulnerable first-up and is encouraged by a few of those finishing behind him rebounding at their next start.
“If you dissect the field the ones all up on the speed didn’t finish it off and we were probably better than any of them,’’ he said.
“Others have come out since and run very well. I would say you should see a change around on Saturday.”
The four-year-old, whose past five starts have been at Group 1 level, has Nash Rawiller on board for the first time on race day, Rawiller did ride in his recent trial and in his trackwork on Tuesday morning.
Sargent said barrier one is a plus for the Doncaster placegetter and can’t offer any reason why he won’t return to his usual consistent self.
“We won’t ride him to be in the trail, just where he’s happy, but he’s going to get a nice soft run because there should be a fair bit of speed in the race,’’ he said.
“It’ll be up to luck in the straight to get out and get at them.
“He’ll have to be on his best though, I think Probabeel will be very hard to beat, but I think he will be right there.”
While Sargent is hoping for a change of fortune for Brandenburg, jockey Kerrin McEvoy could argue he’s due for the same on the horse Sargent fears most – Group 1 winning mare Probabeel who is the race favourite at $3 with TAB.
McEvoy has had five rides on the four-year-old for five second placings, three of them by 0.3 lengths or less, including her eye-catching first-up second in the Show County (1200m) a month ago.
Probabeel runs second at Randwick on August 22
Probabeel reeled off a race best last 200m of 11.57 (Punter's Intelligence) and last 600m of 34.20 in that race, won by Roheryn, and McEvoy said if he can guide her through the midrace loss of concentration she traditionally has she’s going to be hard to hold off.
“She hits a bit of a flat spot and once she goes through that she hits full throttle,’’ he said.
“She’s had a bit of time between runs and a trial and I’ve been sitting on her a fair bit in her work, I’m pleased with where she‘s at.
“She has a nice draw, she’s getting out in distance now and I do believe she’s in for a great spring.”
The mare has just 52.5kg in the TAB Epsom, where she’s on the second line of betting at $8 while she’s a $15 chance in the Golden Eagle.