Brenton Avdulla has been booked to ride Gust Of Wind in the 2016 Apollo Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday and the Sydney Jockeys’ Premiership leader is set to stick with the talented mare throughout her 2016 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign.
Gust Of Wind beat Winx to take out the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick during The Championships last year and she performed consistently during the spring, but was unable to record a race win.
Gust Of Wind started her campaign with promising efforts in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on August 22, the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 12 and the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4 before she found the line strongly to finish fourth in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17.
The daughter of Darci Brahma was unwanted in betting in the lead-up to the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), but she was one of the only horse to make up ground late and she finished a more than credible sixth.
Gust Of Wind has been set for another crack at 3200 metres in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 9 and Sargent said at track work this morning that the four-year-old will be ridden by Avdulla in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) this weekend, with the leading hoop set to stick with Gust Of Wind for races like the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) and the Sydney Cup.
“She is about 25 kilos heavier than when she ran in the Melbourne Cup, but some of that would be strengthening from her spell – she had six weeks out – and the rest would be that she is still pretty big,” Sargent said.
“She will have four runs into the Sydney Cup.
“She will kick-off on Saturday and we just want her to be running home – we are looking to peak her for the main races.
“At this stage she is not going to get a lot of weight in the Cup – probably 53 – and we have sort of tied Brenton down because he is a top low weight rider.
“We will just tag along and she how she goes, but at this stage we would like to keep him aboard.”
Gust Of Wind is currently available at 2016 Sydney Cup odds of $8 with Ladbrokes and she is a narrow favourite from Almoonqith ($9), Mongolian Khan ($9), Preferment ($9), Our Ivanhowe ($10), Who Shot Thebarman ($10), Criterion ($11) and Magic Hurricane ($11).