Trainer John Sargent is expecting a better performance from Brandenburg (NZ) (Burgundy) when he lines up in the The Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange.
Brandenburg is among 24 nominations for the A$1 million provincial feature on Saturday, a race only introduced to the spring racing calendar last year.
The stakes-winning four-year-old will appreciate returning to a firmer surface following his midfield effort behind Collette (Hallowed Crown) on a heavy-rated track in the A$7.5 million Golden Eagle three weeks ago.
“It was too wet for him in the Golden Eagle but still a good run considering he was never on the track,” trainer John Sargent said.
“That bit of rain twenty minutes before the race really made it hard for him.”
The Kembla Grange track was rated a Good4 on Tuesday and the rail will be in the true position for the stand-alone Saturday meeting, which has metropolitan status.
“Hopefully we’ll get a good draw on Saturday. He’s well in at the weights and he’ll go into the race in tip-top order,” Sargent said.
“He had a good hitout on the (Randwick) Polytrack today (Tuesday) and he finished off really strongly.”
Regan Bayliss, who partnered Brandenburg in the Golden Eagle, will again ride the dual Group One-placed entire on Saturday.
Brandenburg’s stakes-winning half sister Luvaluva (NZ) (Mastercraftsman) ran sixth to Mister Sea Wolf (Amadeus Wolf) in last year’s inaugural running of The Gong.
Luvaluva, also trained by Sargent, has since been retired and is in foal to Lonhro.
Sargent also indicated House Of Cartier (Alamosa) would back up at Kembla following a disappointing performance at Newcastle last Saturday.
“It wasn’t the best ride at Newcastle. She got back and wide,” Sargent said.
“She needs to be on the speed and hopefully with a good draw we can have her closer this Saturday.”
House Of Cartier, a South Australian Oaks placegetter and Group Two-winning mare in New Zealand, is the highest rated entry for the benchmark 78 (2000m) event and connections have engaged claiming Irish apprentice Louise Day.