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Not even one of the better track gallops of Gust Of Wind’s life can convince trainer John Sargent his stable star will be a proper Apollo Stakes rival for headline mare Winx.

In a workout designed to ensure Gust Of Wind isn’t giving away too much on the score of fitness, Sargent sent the Sydney Cup favourite out on a mission over 800m on Tuesday morning.

Gust of Wind

Gust of Wind

Gust A Wind is notoriously lazy on the training track but her gallop alongside a stable companion earned rare trackwork praise from Sargent.

“That was nice work for her, for sure,” Sargent said.

“I wanted to give her a nice hit-out because I don’t want her to be too far behind them.”

Sargent said Gust Of Wind would return to racing 20kg heavier than when she ran an outstanding race to finish a close sixth in the Melbourne Cup.

But the extra baggage will be the least of Sargent’s worry at Randwick on Saturday.

“Winx will be too good, but as long as my mare is running home well on Saturday I’ll be happy.”

Brenton Avdulla will be reunited with Gust Of Wind for the first time since his one and only ride on the mare delivered a provincial win on the way to her ATC Australian Oaks victory last year.

Sargent said Avdulla had a firm autumn booking for Gust Of Wind’s four-run autumn campaign tailored to have her at her peak for the Sydney Cup on April 9.

On the strength of her Melbourne Cup run, Gust Of Wind has been at the head of Sydney Cup charts for several months.

Trainer Chris Waller confirmed Winx would also set off on her much-anticipated autumn campaign in the 1400m weight-for-age race.

Winx came through her Tuesday gallop with flying colours and the Cox Plate winner will be one of three Apollo runners for her trainer.

Waller will also start accomplished stayers Who Shot Thebarman and Grand Marshal.

His Caulfield Guineas winner Press Statement will be missing when acceptances are taken on Wednesday and the three-year-old will resume against his own age in the Hobartville Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday week.

Some Australian corporate bookmakers are already betting on the Apollo Stakes with Winx marked well into red figures.

Her biggest threat is tipped to come from the Gerald Ryan-trained Solicit who is expected to have a fitness edge after a first-up Expressway Stakes placing.

 
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