By Ray Hickson
Trainer John Sargent will find out very quickly if impressive debut winner My Fire Phoenix is Inglis Millennium material when she takes on one of the favourites for the $2m race at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The filly has been largely ignored by TAB who opened her $16 in the ATC Handicap (1000m) despite stretching to an easy Canterbury win, as a $4.80 chance, on January 4.
But with another unbeaten filly in Espaaniyah ($2.70) heading the market, and second favorite for the Millennium, Sargent will know where My Fire Phoenix fits in quickly.
“Obviously it is a stronger field but she has to show up to be a chance in the $2 million race,’’ Sargent said.
“She’s fit and well, and ready for Saturday, and you’ve got to know where you stand.’’
My Fire Phoenix spent a few days out of the stable after her all the way debut win and Sargent was tempted to wait until the February 9 feature at Warwick Farm to produce her again.
But with $22,000 prizemoney he didn’t want to risk missing out on a start.
“We thought about holding her back and going straight in but another race will be good for the horse,’’ he said.
My Fire Phoenix's impressive debut win at Canterbury on January 3
“It’s just over the road, she’ll be over and back to her stable in a couple of hours and it’s only 1000m.
“When it comes to the day it could be wet or you could draw the outside. You’ve got to get them to the race as good as you can.’’
Tommy Berry was in the saddle for My Fire Phoenix’s only trial and debut win but he’s in New Zealand this weekend for the Karaka Million meeting so Sargent has booked another Tom, in-form UK jockey Tom Marqand, as stand in.
“Tommy told me she was a natural when he rode her in the trial and to go straight to the races,’’ he said.
“It was a nice win, I didn’t ask him to lead but she jumped well and he rode her positively. She should improve again and with the draw she should be right in the firing line.’’
A quick look at the Golden Slipper entries shows My Fire Phoenix is an omission but Sargent said that’s because the owners paid up for the Inglis series and a Slipper campaign is something they’d only entertain if she were to win the Millennium.
Stayer Only Tiger makes his return in #Theraces Handicap (1400m) after a 13 run campaign that started in January last year and didn’t wrap until July.
The gelding won three races and was placed another eight times plus finished no worse than fourth.
“A mile and upwards is when you’ll see the best of him but he’s had two trials and he’s ready to go to the races,’’ Sargent said.
“As long as he’s running on I’ll be happy. He’s very honest and kept ticking over, he’s come up well but it’ll be well short of his best.’’
Meanwhile, Sargent’s Group winning stayer Luvaluva kicks off her autumn with a barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday.