Last season’s premiership-winning trainer John Sargent will mark the closure of his Riccarton satellite stable this weekend with five starters on the final day of the Canterbury Jockey Club’s autumn carnival.
Sargent has operated an auxiliary unit to his Matamata headquarters for the past three years, occupying stables leased from the CJC on racecourse property. The recent decision to expand across the Tasman with a stable Warwick Farm has precipitated the move to close his Riccarton operation and he will sign off on the last big day of the season at the Christchurch track.
“Being the final day of the autumn carnival it’s an appropriate time to wind it up,” Sargent said. “It’s worked well for me having a base down south but with a stable in Sydney now it’s not easy having such a wide spread.”
As well as local stable residents Needastar (R85 1600), Orutan (R85 1200), Global Partner (R75 2000) and Sometime Later (R65 1600), Sargent will also send recent impressive juvenile winner south from Matamata for the Listed Berkley Stud Champagne Stakes. The Australian-bred ran away with the two-year-old event at the recent Hawke’s Bay Cup meeting, scoring by nine and a half lengths.
“I’ve always liked her but she’s taken a while to get her act together,” commented the Mossman filly’s trainer. “She’s done well since Hastings and this is a good chance to get some black-type to go with her pedigree.”
Well before the successes of his satellite stable members, the Riccarton track had been a happy hunting ground for Sargent, who spent his secondary education in the Garden City. Back when he was based at Otaki, he notched a career first black-type win with Whey To Go in the 1993 Canterbury Gold Cup, while more recent wins include the 2007 New Zealand Cup with Everswindell.
“I have a close attachment to Canterbury racing and I’ll continue to send horses south to race there, but it’s just no longer practical to maintain a stable full-time there,” Sargent said.
Former stable apprentice Michelle Carston, who took over as stable foreman from her twin brother Andrew when he relocated to Sydney to manage the Warwick Farm operation, has taken a position at Awapuni-based trainer Lisa Latta’s Riccarton stable. Some of the current Sargent-trained horses still in the south will also be transferred to Latta, while weekend runner Orutan, the stakes-placed four-year-old by Pins from classy performer Naturo, will go under the hammer at next week’s National Weanling, Broodmare and Mixed Bloodstock Sale at Karaka.