Esteban building towards trio of Cups

SYDNEY Jan 10 2017

Caulfield and Melbourne Cups are promising stayer Esteban's focus but John Sargent believes the exciting prospect has attributes which could make him a weight-for-age star.

The trainer is known for producing top-class stayers and he rates Esteban's potential in the upper echelon.

"He's not a grinding stayer. I've had a lot of those but he's more a horse that you'd think would be a weight-for-age horse in time," Sargent said.

"The weight-for-age horses have got a sprint off a fast pace. He's a horse that can do that."

While many stayers are limited to outlasting the competition, Esteban's versatility to perform in fast or slowly run races is a major benefit, Sargent said.

"I am excited about him because he can do those high cruising speeds up on the pace and then kick again," he said.

As for his four- and five-year-old seasons, Sargent is aiming to win the Mornington Cup to give the horse automatic entry into the Caulfield Cup with the Melbourne Cup also firmly on the radar.

"You can not worry about the spring then. You're in the (Caulfield Cup) and get in with a good weight," he said.

Saturday's 1400m benchmark handicap at Randwick will be his second run for the campaign after he resumed over 1200m at Rosehill on Christmas Eve.

"I'm expecting a nice run without thinking he's a winning chance. He should be hitting the line strongly," Sargent said.

"I think it'll be a bit short for him but when he gets up to a mile he'll be starting to get very competitive."

Sargent plans to run Esteban over 1600m at Randwick on February 4 and then look at 2000m options before the Mornington Cup on March 25.

Jockey Rory Hutchings makes his return to Sydney racing after a lengthy suspension and has an unblemished record from his two rides on the horse.

While Cups are Esteban's focus, Sargent also has a pair of Derby prospects in his stable.

Shine Tak Star star will trial next week as he targets the Australian Derby at Randwick in April while Peter John's extended holiday has put him in the frame for Queensland's three-year-old Classic during winter.

Matt Coughlan - AAP

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