Sahara Eagle will be on trial for the Queensland Derby when he takes to the track at Rosehill.
Renowned trainer of stayers, John Sargent, is using Saturday’s 1800m-handicap as a stepping stone to test the three-year-old gelding’s credentials for Brisbane.
“Saturday will tell whether we’ll go to Brisbane for a Derby and that’s why we’re going over 1800 (metres),” Sargent told AAP.
“It’s good to try him here instead of going and trying (him) up there.
“So it’ll be a definite D-day on Saturday.”
Among Sahara Eagle’s opponents will be the Mike Moroney-trained Top Of The Range who is also being tested for the Queensland Derby and the Chris Waller-trainer Oklahoma Girl who has also been earmarked as a Queensland Oaks contender.
Sahara Eagle’s record is promising. He claimed his first win at his fourth start at Kembla Grange on April 15.
He then finished third over 1550 metres at Canterbury on April 26, just over three lengths behind the Jason Coyle-trained Speed Hero.
“He didn’t seem that comfortable (last week) and he was off the bit before the 600 (metre mark,” Sargent said.
“But he fought on well and I think Rosehill will suit him better.
“It’s a good time to try him because it fits in his prep perfectly, because he’s fit and hard now and he goes down in weight to 51(kg).”
Apprentice James Innes Jr will take two kilograms off Sahara Eagle’s original weight of 53kg.
Sahara Eagle will start from barrier 12 which Sargent says won’t be a problem with a long run to the first turn.
“He’s an on-pace runner so he’ll just take his time and roll over,” Sargent said.
Sargent moved full-time from New Zealand to Australia in 2013, the year after Quintessential won the Queensland Oaks and ran second in the Queensland Derby.
Among his other long distance performers was Gust Of Wind, the last horse to beat champion Winx which she did in the 2015 Australian Oaks.