John Sargent’s Australian Oaks winner Gust Of Wind has returned to work bigger and stronger ahead of a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign targeting the 2015 Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup.
The rising four-year-old daughter of Darci Brahma has had just the five starts to date for three wins including the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick in early April during Sydney’s The Championships.
She was impressive in the mile and a half classic against her own kind putting two and a half lengths on runner-up Winx from the Chris Waller stable, and it is that form Sargent is hoping she can return to in the spring.
Gust Of Wind will again be aimed at a Group 1 2400m feature with the mare targeting a run in the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup on October 17.
Caulfield Cup nominations close next week and in the futures odds for the handicap clash at Ladbrokes.com.au, Gust Of Wind is rated a $21 shot with Godolphin’s The BMW winner Hartnell and Kiwi raider Mongolian Khan the $13 co-favourites.
All going to plan, Sargent will give the Oaks winner a shot at the Spring Cups double with a run in the ‘race that stops a nation’ – the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday November 3.
Gust Of Wind is down to trial as part of a star-studded line-up at the Randwick hitouts on Friday morning along with stablemate, fellow filly Thunder Lady.
Already she is impressing Sargent ahead of her return to racing and a solid jumpout will further boost his confidence heading towards the majors in top class company.
“She’s come back probably as good as I’ve had a horse mature from three to four,” Sargent told AAP.
“A lot of them don’t measure up at four but the way she has come back, I’m very impressed.”
As for his daughter of Mastercraftsman Thunder Lady, who was recently purchased by the same owner as Criterion Sir Owen Glenn, her sole win in 12 starts to date was in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last November where she saluted as a 30/ outsider.
From there she went on to run a brave second behind Set Square in the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) before an autumn return.
Her last two runs were a third to Fenway in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill and a fifth to her stablemate in the Oaks.
Plans with her this time in are to target the $750,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 3 before travelling to Melbourne for the second half of her prep.
Gust Of Wind runs in the third trial on Friday morning over 1050m against the likes of Gai Waterhouse’s Queen Of The Turf Stakes winner Amanpour, Bart & James Cummings’ veteran stayer Precedence and Group 1 winning Brisbane galloper Temple Of Boom.
Thunder Lady is down for the next hitout over the same distance that features the likes of Peter Moody’s progressive colt Hi World and the Chris Waller-trained Doncaster Mile champion Kermadec, as well as the fellow Sargent-trained Kirramosa who won the 2013 Crown Oaks.
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