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Dry track no drama for Owen County

Wed 8 June 2022

By Mandy Cottell

A firm Eagle Farm track holds no fears for trainer John Sargent ahead of Owen County’s Group 1 assault on the J. J. Atkins. 

The promising two-year-old has raced three times, all on heavy surfaces, for a pair of impressive wins and a Clarendon Stakes placing sandwiched in between. 

But, with fine weather forecast ahead of Brisbane’s flagship meeting of the year, Owen County will find himself on a good surface for the first time, and Sargent expects him to take it in his stride. 

“It will be interesting because he has only raced on heavy tracks, but I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t be alright on a firm track,” Sargent said. 

“He has come through his last run great, and the mile will be right up his alley.” 

Owen County responded well to the addition of blinkers at his most recent start, attacking the line with gusto to score over 1400 metres at Randwick, when he was a late pick-up ride for Sydney-based jockey Keagan Latham. 

Latham not only made the most of the opportunity but retained the mount for Saturday’s feature in which he will be chasing his first Group 1 win. 

However, Latham will have to work some magic if Owen County is to join the likes of Converge (2021), The Autumn Sun (2018) and Darci Brahma (2005) on the race’s honour roll after the youngster drew barrier 17. 

The Atkins will be the horse’s final run this campaign with Sargent keen to give him a short break and reset for the spring when the trainer hopes he can develop into a Derby horse.  

“I will give him a quick turnaround up there, probably for about three weeks, and then we will come down and look at some nice races heading towards the Derby,” Sargent said. 

“I’ve thought that’s what he is all the way along, a Derby type of horse.” 

A full field of 18 will contest the J. J. Atkins over 1600 metres with The Phoenix winner Political Debate an early $4.40 favourite to give Chris Waller his fourth win in the race, while Owen County is a $13 chance.