Stable confidence is high after James McDonald’s decision to stick with Encountabull at Randwick.
A positive lead from top jockey James McDonald has reinforced John Sargent’s confidence ahead of Encountabull’s Inglis Nursery bid at Randwick.
McDonald partnered Encountabull when he flashed home for a debut fourth at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day and was impressed enough to make a long-range commitment to ride him in Saturday’s race.
“He galloped him before Melbourne and he said he’d get on the horse there, and then after there he said he’d get on it at Randwick,” Sargent said.
“It’s good to get him that far out. They’re hard to get the real top boys and he’s right on his game.”
McDonald forfeited rides through illness at Wyong on Thursday but expects to be at full fitness on Saturday.
Encountabull has opened equal favourite for Saturday’s $500,000 race, which is restricted to horses bought at Inglis auctions.
A son of dual Group One placegetter Bull Point, the colt has shown ability from the outset and Sargent has been pleased with his progress since the Valley run in October.
“He has won a trial since that race and he’s a promising colt by Bull Point, who is a first season sire,” Sargent said.
“i do have a good opinion of him so hopefully he will front up and show that.”
Encountabull is one of only five Inglis Nursery runners with race experience and his toughest opposition is expected to come from Tulloch Lodge youngster Dubai Star who also has a run on the board.
The filly returns to Sydney after racing handy and holding on for second in the Merson Cooper Stakes at Sandown last month.
Sargent is hoping Saturday’s race can be a stepping stone to the Inglis Millennium at Warwick Farm in February, won last season by subsequent Group One winner and Cox Plate runner-up Castelvecchio.
“I’ll give him 10 days out (after Saturday) and he’ll aim for the Inglis $2 million race in February at Warwick Farm if he runs well,” Sargent said.