Kiwi stayer Quintessential will head towards the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) after she pleased trainer John Sargent with her second-up effort in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Quintessential was never a winning chance in the Naturalism Stakes, with the race run at an incredibly slow pace, but battled on well in the final stages of the race to finish fifth behind Mr O’Ceirin.
Sargent told the New Zealand Racing Desk that the daughter of Fast ‘N’ Famous had pulled up from the run well and will have her next start in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington next Saturday before contesting the Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup double.
“The race wasn’t run to suit,” Sargent said.
“They walked and sprinted the last little bit; she’s a stayer who needs a genuine tempo.
“She’s pulled up well and will press on towards the Turnbull Stakes and then the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.”
Sargent is hoping that Quintessential can replicate the form that she showed in the 2013 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, where she was competitive against a number of leading Group 1 contenders.
She returned to Australia with a fighting win in the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2100m) at Eagle Farm on May 11 before she survived a protest to upset triple Group 1 winner Manighar in the Group 2 Eagle Farm Cup (2100m) three weeks later.
The 2012 Queensland Oaks winner stepped back up to 2400 metres in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup, for the first time since she finished second in the 2012 Group 1 Queensland Derby, and finished second behind Moriarty who will go into the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) as one of the favourites after his impressive victory in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Quintessential is currently sitting 17th on the 2013 Caulfield Cup order of entry and is guaranteed a start in the race but is outside the top 24 for the Melbourne Cup.
Both Cups are set to have a strong New Zealand presence this year; with Silent Achiever and Sangster both aiming to become the first New Zealand-trained horse to win either race since Ethereal completed the double in 2001.