Trainer John Sargent. Picture: Getty Images
Trainer John Sargent. Picture: Getty Images

Encountabull on point for $2m dash

The market says Cellsabeel is near unbeatable in Saturday's $2 million Inglis Millennium (1100m) at Warwick Farm but it also gives John Sargent's Encountabull a chance of causing an upset.

The Ciaron Maher/David Eustace-trained Hinchinbrook filly is a raging $1.50 favourite for the second running of the feature race thanks to her six-length romp at Rosehill on January 18. That was on a Heavy 8 surface and if the weather forecast is true it will be a bog track in Sydney's west on the weekend.

"Cellsabeel looks like the one to beat but anything can happen in those two-year-old scampers. It must be very hard to beat, though," Sargent said.


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What Sargent does have in his favour is the fact champion jockey James McDonald sticks with his horse after they finished second in the Inglis Nursery in December.

A winning trial and lovely track gallop since has the son of Bull Point in top order heading into Saturday's feature.



"He's very promising and I couldn't have been happier with his final gallop at Randwick on the course proper on Tuesday morning," Sargent said. "He went over 800m and quickened up nicely in the last two furlongs.

"After his last trial, James suggested we put the blinkers on. He's getting there easily then looking around."

Sargent, like most trainers heading into Saturday's race, doesn't really know how Encountabull will go on a heavy track.

The colt has drawn barrier two, which is less than ideal if the rain comes. The better ground will be out wider.


Cellsabeel is a dominant favourite for the Inglis Millennium at Warwick Farm. Picture: AAP
Cellsabeel is a dominant favourite for the Inglis Millennium at Warwick Farm. Picture: AAP


He does have a big finish on him and the wet ground will make the 1100m race feel more like a 1200m event, which is in his favour.

"It will be interesting to see how he handles it but two-year-olds generally do handle it the first time because they know nothing else," Sargent said. "I know he'll hit the line and run a strong race. James knows him very well."

So is Encountabull good enough to set on a Group 1 path this autumn?

"We'll see what happens on Saturday," Sargent said. "We'll see if he's up to that level. As long as everything is sound and he's on top of his game that's all we can do."



Warwick Farm, February 8

Cellsabeel $1.50 (opened $1.60)

Encountabull $6 (opened $7)

Fixated $11 (opened $13)

Osamu $15 (opened $17)

Marnix $17 (opened $21)

Bella Nipotina $17

Others $26+




Warwick Farm, February 8

Kubrick $4 (opened $3.50)

Rubisaki $5 (opened $6)

True Detective $6

Accession $8

Xilong $8

Condo's Express $11

Strasbourg $15

Others $17+