By Ray Hickson
Trainer John Sargent wants a genuine gallop to give promising filly Gin Martini her best chance in Saturday’s Group 1 $500,000 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
While Sargent concedes the filly would have had her work cut out against Godolphin colt Anamoe, his absence has caused a much larger field in the Champagne which he hopes converts to a truly run race.
“If Anamoe was in it we might have had a six or seven horse field but with him out it’s made it a big field and that will make it a better tempo,’’ Sargent said.
“In small fields they can walk and sprint so the stronger the tempo the better for us. If she can get the right run she will be finishing right over the top.”
Gin Martini, $10 with TAB on Thursday, was purchased as an Oaks filly for next season but showed she could have a big win in her at two when she was the eye-catcher out of the Group 3 Schweppervescence (1400m) at Rosehill on April 3 as she ran into third behind Saif after blowing the start.
She posted the race’s fastest last 600m (34.70, Punter's Intelligence) and her last 200m of 11.60 was a length faster than anything else.
If she can reel off race best sectionals from a more forward position Sargent is confident she can be right in the finish in what is a race with a little more depth than that Group 3.
“She had her foot going back when the gates opened last start so it cost her three or four lengths,’’ he said.
“When Brenton (Avdulla) rode her on the Kensington track she was fourth or fifth then so there’s no reason she can’t position up not too far away without using her too early.
“She can just work over midfield somewhere and hope for some good speed so she can finish it off.
“We know she has a real good finish and she is going there as fit as I can get her.”
A top four finish is what Sargent considers as a pass mark for Brandenburg as he has his second start as a gelding in the Yarraman Park Handicap (1400m).
The four-year-old, $18 with TAB, failed to beat a runner home in the Group 3 Star Kingdom (1200m) first-up three weeks back but the Randwick trainer is expecting a sharp improvement with that run under his belt.
“He’s not far away now, I think we will see a different horse,’’ he said.
“He’s come ahead in leaps and bounds from that last run and he’d want to be because he’s going to the Hollindale.
“You’d want to see him finish in the first three or four, I’d expect him to run very well. He’s not blowing as much in his gallops this week so he is starting to get there.”
Group 1 placed filly Elizabeel won’t be tried at 2000m again any time soon but Sargent said it was worth a throw at the stumps in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes last start.
She sat on the furious tempo set by Harmony Rose and wasn’t able to sustain it, dropping out to be beaten 10 lengths in eighth, so will appreciate the drop in trip into the Group 3 $160,000 Mostyn Copper JHB Carr Stakes (1400m).
Gin Martini runs third at Rosehill on April 3
Sargent said Elizabeel ($8.50) will head for a spell after Saturday’s race but expects her to be very competitive as she’s shown no signs of the tough run affecting her.
“We gave her a few easy days in the paddock and she has come back nice and fresh,’’ he said.
“She should be right there, she’ll jump and put herself right in the race.
“She’s a free running horse and if there is not a lot of speed she could be up there. If there is pace she can sit behind them, just wherever she is happy.”
Elizabeel finished a gallant third to Forbidden Love in the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) in February and was narrowly beaten by Miravalle in the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) prior to her last run.