Sydney based Kiwi trainer John Sargent says his mare Gust Of Wind is still on the improve as she heads towards the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) run at Flemington on Tuesday.
Australian Oaks winner Gust Of Wind ran a much improved race last start when fourth to Mongolian Khan in the Group 1 $3m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago and Sargent has been pleased with her progress since.
“She has improved. Her work on Tuesday was very good for her,” Sargent told Racing Ahead.
“She was beaten about eight lengths by Volkstok’N’Barrell the Tuesday before Caulfield but she galloped in company on the course proper at Flemington on Tuesday and finished on terms with another horse.”
“I couldn’t be happier with the horse. She has drawn a shade wide but I will leave that Chad.”
Hong Kong based jockey Chad Schofield had ridden Gust Of Wind at her first race start at Seymour in December 2013 and hadn’t been on her back again until the Caulfield Cup and Sargent said that he would definitely now have plenty of knowledge about the mare’s capabilities.
“I think there might be more improvement to the extent that Chad Schofield has never ridden her and he knows a lot more about her,” Sargent said.
“I don’t think he will be sitting as he was in that race when they sprinted around him, Mongolian Khan and whatever and then she started to make her run.”
“She is more a really grinding two miler and we saw that in the Oaks in Sydney. So I think we have learnt a lot from Caulfield.”
Sydney jockey Tye Angland was aboard Gust Of Wind when she raced on the pace to win the Group 1 $1m Seven News Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick during the Sydney Autumn Carnival earlier in the year, but Sargent would expect to see Schofield settle her in the middle of the field from barrier nineteen, although he will leave the final decision up to the jockey.
“I will just leave it to him probably and see how they jump,” Sargent said.
“The one thing for sure is I would like to tag on to something from the half mile and get a nice roll into her on the turn so that she get out and get trucking.”
“If they sit and sprint with her it is not her game. She is such a big striding mare and I will just leave it to him but probably ideal about midfield with cover even if he is three wide so she get rolling.”
Sargent has given Gust Of Wind a steady build up in preparation for the Melbourne Cup and said his selection of race was made easy because she was already qualified because of her win in the Australian Oaks.
“You are lucky when you win an Oaks, you are automatically in the field and we haven’t had to go to races we didn’t want to,” Sargent said.
Gust Of Wind’s first three Spring Carnival runs were over unsuitable distances with a ninth in the Group 2 $250,000 Pro-Ride Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, an eighth in the Group 1 $400,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and an eleventh in the Group 1 $500,000 Yellowglen Turnbull Stakes (2000m) both at Flemington before heading to Caulfield.
“Went to Caulfield, I didn’t think the track would suit her with its tight turns but it is shown it is probably the best lead up race with the form out of it every year. That’s why we went there and then straight into the Cup,” Sargent said.
“It has been trouble free and let’s hope she produces tomorrow. It is a very strong field.”
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In the Melbourne Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au Gust Of Wind is listed as a $34 chance.
Japanese stayer Fame Game heads the betting at $4.40 in front of Caulfield Cup runner up Trip To Paris at $8 and the Chris Waller trained Preferment at $9.50.
Melbourne Cup market order with Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.40 Fame Game, $8 Trip To Paris, $9.50 Preferment, $13 Max Dynamite, $15 Criterion, $16 Almoonqith, $19 Our Ivanhowe, $20 The United States, $21 Who Shot Thebarman, Bondi Beach, $26 Excess Knowledge, Red Cadeuax, $31 Hartnell, $34 Gust Of Wind, Hokko Brave, $41 Kingfisher, Grand Marshall, Snow Sky, The Offer, Sky Hunter, $61 Big Orange, $101 Prince Of Penzance, Quest For More, Sertorius.
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