By Ray Hickson
John Sargent might be best known for producing smart staying fillies but his search for that topline two-year-old continues and he just might have one in Four Moves Ahead.
Among his Oaks successes with three-year-olds is Gust Of Wind's now famous victory over Winx in the Australian Oaks - but it’s often forgotten that Sargent has prepared some classy two-year-olds in New Zealand.
The likes of Group 1 winners Banchee and Choice Bro and the multiple Group 1 placed Il Quello Veloce were headline acts in NZ around a decade ago.
“I had some good two-year-olds over there but the breeders breed them there whereas here you buy them and I don’t have the big backing to buy the well bred two-year-olds,’’ he said.
“They are very easy to train compared to staying horses. They are either natural or not, you can’t do much about putting speed into their legs.”
The question of where Four Moves Ahead stands will go a long way to being answered after Saturday’s Group 2 $250,000 Iron Jack Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill.
Luck played a part in Sargent snapping up the promising filly, he trains her half-sister Emeralds and when Four Moves Ahead was passed in at the sales her owner Jonathan Munz decided to just send her to the same stable.
She ran right up to her smart trials with a dominant debut win back on January 2, where she raced clear after sitting wide, and after a small setback Sargent declared she’s ready to show her hand for next month’s $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper.
“She’s won that race and won it well then she had a cold and we had to back off for a couple of weeks,’’ he said.
“She was cleared two weeks ago so started galloping again, she trialled really well and has improved with the trial.
“She’s ready to go, she’s got to get out there now and prove it against the colts.
“I’d love to get some black type with her, that’s the first thing you want with the fillies, so it’s a very important race.”
Two out of the last four Golden Slipper winners have also won the Silver Slipper – Farnan last year and She Will Reign in 2017 - so a win on Saturday will go a long way to giving Sargent confidence that elusive Aussie Group 1 juvenile success is possible.
Four Moves Ahead opened $3.40 with TAB foe the Silver Slipper and is on the fifth line of all-in betting on the Golden Slipper at $15 and Sargent said with a wet track win already under her belt and an ideal draw there’ll be no excuses.
“That’s a big help, but I think the best thing about her is her attitude,’’ he said.
“She is so laid back and takes everything in her stride, she eats and sleeps and goes out and does her work.
“She’s very adaptable and is probably better chasing. With the draw she could sit behind the speed a bit and get at them late."
Four Moves Ahead wins a trial at Rosehill on February 11
Sargent will get a clearer idea of what the autumn looks like for Easy Campese after the Group 2 $400,000 City Tattersalls Club Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
The gelding finished just behind the placings in races like the Dulcify and Gloaming in the spring and while his first-up fourth in a five horse field disappointed Sargent he’s prepared to be a little forgiving.
“He’s better than his last run, he was quite fresh at Canterbury,’’ he said.
“He was just behind the top ones last year and he’s fit and well so he will acquit himself well.
“If he runs well in the first three he will go to the Randwick Guineas. It’s going to be no holding back now we’re close to the carnival.”
Meanwhile the Randwick trainer confirmed Emeralds will head to the Group 2 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) on Saturday week after her Tuesday trial while two-year-old Readily Availabull will either run in the Skyline Stakes on the same day or head to Melbourne.