The Group 1 Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm will always hold fond memories for Sydney trainer John Sargent.
The New Zealand-born Sargent is a master at training young stayers and trained his first Group 1 winner on Australian soil when Quintessential won the Queensland Oaks in 2012.
Ten years on and Sargent is back hoping to repeat the feat with Group 1 Australian Oaks place getter Gin Martini, who finished fourth to Barb Raider in the Group 2 The Roses at Eagle Farm last Saturday.
He also hopes Nyota can sneak into the final field of 16 after being named second emergency.
Sargent has no concerns with the quick seven-day back-up with Gin Martini, who finished third in the Australian Oaks at Randwick behind the Danny O’Brien-trained El Patroness during the autumn.
“I’m not worried about the back-up as they do it in Victoria when they back-up four days after The Wakeful into the Victoria Oaks,” Sargent said.
Gin Martini is an on-pace runner as she displayed in the Australian Oaks and in her only other Queensland start when she raced on the speed to finish fourth in the Listed Bracelet at the Gold Coast on May 7.
However, Sargent has signalled a change in riding tactics with Gin Martini who drew barrier 10 in the 2200-metre feature.
“I want to try and ride her a bit colder if possible and hope to have her hidden away,” he said.
Sargent said it was difficult to compare Gin Martini with Quintessential, who also claimed the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap and Group 2 Eagle Farm Cup in 2013 before finishing second in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup that year.
“This filly is more a staying type than Quintessential who had a bit more sprint in her,” he said.
Sargent rates Queensland filly Gypsy Goddess, who drew a horror barrier in 22, as the main threat along with The Roses winner Barb Raider, who drew barrier 11, and Victorian filly Aravene, who drew perfectly in gate six.
Sargent has no spring plans mapped out for Gin Martini, who is set to spell in Queensland after her Oaks assignment.
“There’s no great rush for the spring just yet and I’ll play it by ear after we see how she goes on Saturday,” he said.
Sargent trained for many years in New Zealand before relocating to Malaysia where he won all the major Group 1 races.
He returned to New Zealand in 2002 winning a host of major races before moving to Sydney to train where he claimed the 2015 Australian Oaks with Gust Of Wind who was the last horse to beat former champion, Winx.
– Racing Queensland