ATC Oaks-bound filly Luvaluva will take on the colts and geldings first-up at Rosehill Gardens this weekend as the sole female galloper in a star-studded edition of the Group 2 $400,000 Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
The three-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman is first-up against ten rivals in the Hobartville Stakes field on Saturday, jockey Jay Ford jumping aboard the bay in her autumn kick off replacing Kerrin McEvoy who rides in Melbourne.
“Kerrin worked her on Tuesday and the feedback was positive,” Sargent told AAP on Wednesday.
Winner of the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on VRC Derby Day, Luvaluva was last seen running a credible fourth when under three lengths beaten on the seven day back-up into the Group 1 VRC Oaks (2500m) behind Pinot.
Two Sydney trials have brought her on fitness-wise for this weekend where the filly begins her campaign aimed at a grand final run at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of The Championships.
“She had a six-week break after the Oaks and she’s now a lot more mature,” Sargent explained.
“I think she’ll be better again in the spring. Three-year-old fillies don’t always train on at four, but I think this one will.”
Sargent chases a second success in the Group 1 $1 million James Boag’s Premium Australian Oaks (2400m) on April 14, a mile and a half classic he won only three years ago with Gust Of Wind (2015).
Gust Of Wind beat home subsequent fifteen-time Group 1 champion Winx in that year’s ATC Oaks, but never won again.
Chris Waller’s heroic mare Winx meanwhile went on to win her next twenty-two starts on the trot and will be after her twenty-third straight first-up Saturday week in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
Sargent is more than happy with his decision to test Luvaluva in open-gender company on the weekend, despite the filly going out as a $41 roughie in the Hobartville Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The other option would have been saving her a week for a Chipping Norton Stakes Day run in the country’s newest elite level against her own kind in the Group 1 $500,000 Surround Stakes (1400m).
“She is kicking off there because it suits her program. I didn’t want to wait another week,” Sargent said.
“She’s probably spelled better than any three-year-old filly I’ve had.
“She’s a lot stronger and bigger, I’m tickled pink with her.
“It’ll be a bit sharp for her on Saturday but as long as she’s hitting the line she’s on track.”
Second-up the filly will contest the Group 3 $200,000 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) on March 16 before the ATC Australian Oaks.
All-in Australian Oaks betting currently lists Luvaluva as the $9 second favourite behind the Aaron Purcell-trained Aloisia ($8) who resumed last Saturday running two lengths back for fifth behind upset winner Rimraam at Flemington in the Group 3 The Vanity (1400m).
The major players in the Hobartville Stakes markets meanwhile are the James Cummings-trained Eskimo Prince Stakes winner first-up Kementari ($2.35) and the spring’s Golden Rose champ Trapeze Artist ($3.80) who resumed with an Expressway Stakes success.