Sargent's 'Outsiders' Far From Eagle Longshots

Trainer John Sargent can make a strong case for both in-form mare Emeralds and Group 1 placed Brandenburg to be major players in Saturday's $7.5m Iron Jack Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.

It's easy for the Randwick trainer to push Emeralds' credentials given her impressive last start Group 3 win in the Angst Stakes (1600m) but in Brandenburg's case he's trusting that a change of routine and return to a wet track will see him produce a spring peak.

The duo are considered outsiders with Emeralds at $31 with TAB and Brandenburg $26 but Sargent said that's also a reflection of the strength and open-ness of Australia's only feature race exclusively for four-year-olds.

BRANDENBURG winning the Arrowfield Hobartville Stakes
BRANDENBURG winning the Arrowfield Hobartville Stakes Picture: Racing and Sports

Emeralds has been a horse that's promised plenty and she started the autumn as one of the most promising fillies in training but it was cut short when she bled as a well supported favourite back in March.

"We gave her a long break, she's never shown any signs of that since and she's come in a different horse,'' Sargent said.

"She's a lot more mature and very relaxed. She finally showed last start what she can do, now we are out to that distance of 1500m to a mile."

Jason Collett brought Emeralds with a strong late surge to win the Angst Stakes and that backed up her Group 2 placing in the Golden Pendant at her previous start.

Sargent said her form at stakes level this time in is a reflection of her maturity and improving race sense.

"Jason said she was a lot better than the start before, he thought she'd gone up a level,'' he said.

"I think she's on that upward trend and she will give it a shake on Saturday."

Brandenburg has been a real head scratcher for Sargent.

He started the spring with a heavy track third in the Group 1 Doncaster on his CV from the autumn and the expectation that a Group 1 win isn't far from his reach, he finished midfield in the Epsom and his best effort in three runs in spring was a third to Probabeel in the Bill Ritchie.

Sargent said the connections are happy to chase the $7.5m incentive in the Golden Eagle but his days as an entire could be numbered.

"I think you can't turn away this type of money as a four-year-old and you can always (chase a Group 1) next year,'' he said.

"We might have a run after this down in Melbourne and there's always the option if he doesn't get a Group 1 soon he could be gelded.

"He's a lovely natured horse but there's always that as a last resort."

Key to Brandenburg's chances is the return to heavy ground and Sargent has been mixing up his training for what he describes as a big test.

Still, he's been disappointed with what the horse has produced on the track of late.


Racing and Sports