The prospect of a repeat Godolphin victory in the G1 Canterbury Stakes looms large at Randwick on Saturday when the stable sends out Impending and Hauraki in a bid to emulate Holler’s 2016 success.
On a Randwick program that is under threat from rain, trainer John O’Shea also has Malaise looking for G1 success in the Randwick Guineas and one of the stable’s best Australian juvenile colts, Trekking resuming in the G2 Todman Stakes.
O’Shea has engaged Hong Kong-based Zac Purton for the ride on Impending who is second-up in the Canterbury Stakes after resuming with a forgivable sixth over 1200m at Randwick three weeks ago.
“On the face of it he did look a little bit disappointing the other day, but I thought there were plenty of excuses for him,” O’Shea said.
“I thought he was on the worst part of the ground and he doesn’t like being cluttered up and he didn’t have his blinkers on, which he has this week.
“We won this race last year with Holler and although it’s a stronger version of this race, Impending is a much better horse on face value and in terms of his form.
“I think he’s improved dramatically since his last run.”
Hauraki (Blake Shinn), winner of the G1 Epsom Handicap last Spring, resumes in the same race, but O’Shea sees the race more as a lead-up to next month’s G1 Doncaster Handicap.
“Probably 1300m here is a little short of his best …. the Doncaster, third-up at a mile, is when he’ll really peak.”
Malaise, also to be ridden by Purton, has done most of his Guineas preparation in Melbourne where he has finished second at each of his three runs this time in before returning to Sydney in search of the soft track he is bound to find on Saturday.
“It was a very good run at his last start at Flemington and his work on Wednesday morning was first class,” O’Shea said.
“He’s had a good foundation, I’m sure the mile at Randwick will suit him, he’ll take up a position and he’s a horse who can be in the finish.”
Another to impress on the training track this week is Trekking (Zac Purton) who is joined by the in-form Veranillo (Brenton Avdulla) in the Todman Stakes.
A winner at his only start, Trekking suffered a setback early in his current preparation which has delayed his return to racing.
But O’Shea said the Street Cry colt had confirmed his status as “one of our better colts, if not the best” with some impressive training efforts.
“He worked brilliantly here on Tuesday morning,” the trainer said.
Trekking is also entered for the G3 Black Opal Stakes at Canberra on Sunday as a backup in case Randwick is washed out.
The Group-race contingent at Randwick is completed by Alucinari in the G3 Wenona Girl Quality and Alegria, Ambience and Circular in the G3 Aspiration Quality.
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