Sargent two-year-old earns Atkins bid

The addition of blinkers has produced the desired effect for talented youngster Owen County.

OWEN COUNTY winning the Precise Air Hcp at Randwick in Australia.
OWEN COUNTY winning the Precise Air Hcp at Randwick in Australia. Picture: Steve Hart

Progressive two-year-old Owen County has booked his passage to Queensland for a shot at the Group 1 J J Atkins Stakes with a classy victory at Randwick. 

Trainer John Sargent pulled the right rein by keeping the youngster in Sydney for Saturday's Precise Air Handicap (1400m) after he was made an emergency for the Sires' Produce Stakes in Brisbane where he would have failed to gain a run. 

The first prizemoney cheque of over $61,000 at his home track has vaulted him up the order of entry for next months' J J Atkins (1600m) at Eagle Farm, and while Sargent has Derby aspirations longer-term, he is equally keen to give Owen County a chance at the top level as a two-year-old. 

"Early doors, 'Sarge' always had that (Derby) earmarked but we will head to Brisbane first and the owners and breeders can have their dream up there," Sargent's stable representative, Campbell Ashby said. 

"He has been a horse who was a bit tricky early doors. 

"It took the boys a couple of phone calls to get them to cut the horse, but he is now repaying them." 

A late pick-up ride for Keagan Latham after Rory Hutchings was ruled out of the meeting, Owen County ($5) settled in the second half of the field and stormed down the outside to reel in Amati ($4.40) by three-quarters of a length. 

That pair streeted the others with Golden Queen ($2.40 fav) best of the rest another 5-1/4 lengths in arrears. 

Latham felt Sargent's decision to put blinkers on Owen County made a significant difference. 

"When I picked up the ride this morning, I had a look at his two previous runs," Latham said. 

"He looked a bit lazy in those races, but the blinkers certainly sharpened him up. He really quickened when he set out after Amati." 

Trainer Chris Waller's assistant Charlie Duckworth was happy with the effort of Amati, who was having just her second start, and said she could develop into a nice filly for the Princess Series in the spring. 

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