Kevin Maloney, “Esteban was bred to be a good stayer”
Esteban’s relentless front-running style makes stamina-sapping staying races look like track gallops.
After 2 runaway wins at the provincials, Esteban was tested in Sydney Saturday class Saturday and made the rise in grade look routine as he romped home by nearly 7 lengths in the Schweppes Handicap (2000m).
He has now won his past 3 starts by an aggregate margin of 21 lengths. So, how good is he?
Even trainer John Sargent cannot provide a definitive answer except to say the young stayer has a bright future.
“This was a test for him today but the way he won, obviously he is a promising horse,’’ Mr. Sargent said. “I think we can put his good form down to the addition of blinkers and a bit of maturity.’’
Starting $4.60 favourite, Esteban was never headed to beat Rock Mylady ($19) with Erika ($6) a short-neck away third.
Jockey Rory Hutchings said Esteban was travelling like a winner a long way out.
“Usually when I ride stayers I like to get going on them from the 600m but you don’t have to with Esteban,’’ he said. “He has such a good turn of foot you so you can hold him up and he will still sprint quickly. He is a very promising horse.’’
Esteban could be destined for bigger things in the Spring.
Esteban is raced by a syndicate of owners including Kevin Maloney’s Segenhoe Stud and improved his race record to 3 wins from just 8 starts.
Kevin Maloney pointed out that Esteban was bred to be a good stayer by champion sire Encosta De Lago out of Nadege, herself a daughter of Champagne, the 1998 Melbourne Cup runner-up.
“They were never going to catch him today,’’ Kevin Maloney said. He has been running times at both ends of his races and he could not be more impressive.’’
Mr. Sargent admitted he has a decision to make now, does he continue with Esteban’s Winter race program or does he consider aiming higher and setting the rising 4-year-old for the Spring campaign.
“To see him win like that I guess we will have to think about whether we give him a break and set him for the Spring,’’ the trainer said.
By Ray Thomas The Sunday Telegraph
Paul Ebeling, Editor