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John Sargent taking cautious route with Esteban, the shining light of the Segenhoe Stud

John Sargent taking cautious route with Esteban, the shining light of the Segenhoe Stud

The first Segenhoe horse and last remaining in John Sargent's yard might be the best – just don't go predicting big things from Esteban in the spring.

Having acted as the gatekeeper for the powerful Hunter Valley stud's string after the David Vandyke era and before Peter Robl was granted his training licence, it would be easy to think Sargent hid Esteban away when the trucks rolled in to ready Robl for his post-riding days.

But Sargent long had his eye on the stayer, which has become a revelation during the depths of a Sydney winter devoid of the usual premiership suspense this season.

"He's been with me the whole time and I bought him with [Segenhoe Stud's racing manager] Billy Mitchell at the New Zealand Ready To Run Sales a couple of years ago," Sargent said of the $180,000 purchase.

"I've got some clients apart from Segenhoe in the horse as well. He's always been in my barn and the New Zealand owners are very happy with his progress."

And why wouldn't they be? Sargent credits the application of blinkers – and a step up in trip – as the things that flicked the switch for Esteban. Many thought he was a promising horse, but this good?

Having run his rivals ragged to win by almost seven lengths at Rosehill a fortnight ago, he's back at the scene of the crime as he chases a fourth straight win on Saturday.

But the ever-cautious Sargent is not about to start bandying around lofty targets for Esteban later in the year.

"He's a horse that is just going through the grades – he will need to improve when he gets into stronger company – but we'll take him slowly and then give him a break," Sargent said.

"We might just give him one more and then focus on the autumn because you can't keep going at both ends.

"He's not just one dimensional either. I know it was only at Newcastle, but he sat third and he does have good speed for a stayer. He'll be bowling along up there.

"He's bred to stay and getting to 2000 metres plus has been important and he's really showed what he can do. But he's really concentrating with the blinkers."

The same can be said of his rider, Rory Hutchings, who will be crowned Sydney's champion apprentice after the metropolitan season ends on Saturday.

Sargent is one Kiwi-done-good-in-Sydney success story. He reckons the flame-haired kid from across the ditch is just starting to realise what it takes to be another.

"He's probably matured mentally more than anything," Sargent said of Hutchings. "I've known him for a long time and he's always been a gifted rider without the dedication. He's realising now that in Sydney he's got to get off his bum, work hard and he's getting the results now.

"He reminds me a bit of Hugh Bowman being a tall rider and he rides with a long rein. That suits stayers and the ones that particularly need to relax.