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Sargent hopes of plundering another Oaks

Tue 4 June 2024

By Glenn Davis

Sydney trainer John Sargent is rarely without a quality three-year-old filly and has a happy knack of winning staying races like the Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Sargent takes another plunge this year with $31 outsider Unique Ambition in the 2200 metre feature and is not throwing in the white towel against her more fancied opposition.

Sargent acknowledges the giant leap in grade the daughter of Tavistock faces against the likes of $2.80 favourite Scarlet Oak but is confident she can win.

“We’re going up there to win,” Sargent said.

“It’s a big step up for her but I’ve trained some good fillies over the years and she’s right up with the best of them.

“She’s fit and well and it’ll be a nice race for her.

“After the Oaks she’ll spell in Queensland then cruise through the spring with three or four runs before getting ready for the autumn next year.”

The New Zealand-born Sargent is a master at training young stayers and trained his first Group 1 winner on Australian soil when Quintessential won the Queensland Oaks in 2012.

He trained a further three Oaks winners with Kirramosa (2013 VRC Oaks), Miss Mossman (2014 New Zealand Oaks) and in the 2015 Australian Oaks with Gust Of Wind.

Sargent has always liked Unique Ambition from the day he first spotted her in the sale ring.

“She was quite an athletic filly when I bought her at the New Zealand sales,” he said.

Unique Ambition - a Michael Rodd mount - only won her maiden at Newcastle in March and then did not measure up at her next two starts in the Group 3 P J Bell Stakes and Group 3 James Carr Stakes at Randwick in April.

She then returned to her best form, but it was in a Class 1 event over 1600 metres at Scone on May 17.

“Her last run at Scone was very good but her two runs before that on heavy tracks at Randwick were hopeless," Sargent said.

“I was just waiting for a good track and she produced it at Scone so away we go.”

Sargent said Unique Ambition is great around the stables and loved her tucker.

“She’s a lovely filly but I’d like a nice track for her at Eagle Farm and nothing worse than soft,” he said.

“She’s a great doer and has a bit of class about her.”

Sargent trained for many years in New Zealand before relocating to Malaysia where he won all the major Group 1 races there.

He returned to New Zealand in 2002, winning a host of major races, before moving to Sydney to train where he claimed the 2015 Australian Oaks with Gust Of Wind, who was the last horse to beat former champion, Winx.