Sargent Keen for Kiwi to be Keeper of Tiara

St Germaine and Willy Jimmy

St Germaine (inside) finished second to Willy Jimmy last start

New Zealand’s Matamata-based trainer John Sargent is hoping his smart Keeper mare St Germaine can continue her promising for down under and give the favourites a run for their money in the Tattersall’s Tiara at Eagle Farm this Saturday.

The final Group 1 feature of the Australian racing season, the $500,000 Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) headlines a bumper day’s racing in Brisbane on Saturday.

Previously known as the Winter Stakes, Tattersall’s Tiara acceptances were taken on Wednesday with a final field of 15 fillies and mares set to fight it out.

Clear favourite to salute in this year’s Tattersall’s Tiara is Peter Snowden’s classy mare and recent Doomben 10,000 conqueror, Beaded who came up trumps with barrier three in the Winter Stakes gate draw.

Sargent, however, is hoping that the Tiara will better fit his progressive four-year-old St Germaine.

A multiple Group 1 placegetter back home in New Zealand, St Germaine has enjoyed a strong winter campaign in Queensland since Sargent bought her over in May.

In her Australian race debut St Germaine caught the eye of many when she finished a brave second to fellow Kiwi galloper Firebolt in the Group 3 Lord Mayor’s Cup (1615m) at Doomben on May 21.

Next start was also a credible result as star New Zealand hoop James McDonald rode St Germaine to a fifth place finish, beaten by just over two lengths, behind winner and fellow Tattersall’s Tiara challenger Hurtle Myrtle in the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 4.

A week later Sargent backed his mare up in the Listed Strawberry Road Handicap (1600m).

St Germaine again raced competitively to record another black-type placing when finishing only one and a quarter lengths away second to Willy Jimmy, an excellent finish considering she encountered some interference on the run home.

Sargent has seen enough from St Germaine throughout her Brisbane campaign for him to accept her for the Tattersall’s Tiara where she will face off against not only Beaded, but other top-class competitors including dual Group 1 winner Yosei, QTC Cup winner Varenna Miss and Kelso Wood’s Stradbroke Handicap third placegetter Zero Rock.

The enthusiastic horseman originally also nominated St Germaine for the $100,000 Listed Centenary Classic Open Mile (1600m) on Winter Stakes Day, but has since confirmed he will give her a shot at the big time in the Group 1 highlight of the day.

“The Tiara is a Group 1 race and worth five times the money,” Sargent said.

“I appreciate we need everything to go our way to have a realistic chance of winning but it’s worth a punt.”

Sargent also confessed that St Germaine’s entire winter prep had been calculated towards getting her a run in the Tatt’s Tiara.

“This is the race we have targeted and I don’t see much point in not having a shot now.”

Saturday will be St Germaine’s third run in just four weeks, but Sargent remains confident that she has come through all of her starts well and is still racing in top form.

“The mare is in terrific order, her form is good and she’s earned a chance at a Group 1 race against her own sex,” he said.

Three separate jockeys have taken the mount on St Germaine in Queensland with Jonathan Riddel, James McDonald and most recently Tim Clark.

Clark was given the chance to continue his association with her this Saturday, but the Aussie rider has instead opted to stay in Sydney this weekend.

The Tattersall’s Tiara ride has since been handed to gun Kiwi jockey Riddel, aboard for her second in the Lord Mayor’s Cup, and the pair are set to jump from the ideal barrier four start, one outside race favourite Beaded.

“Jonathan is a very accomplished jockey,” Sargent said.

“He came back in jumps riding on Saturday and won the Manawatu Steeplechase.”