John O’Shea is convinced the autumn juvenile form will stack up this spring as he prepares a trio of three-year-olds for early-season stakes targets on Saturday.
And despite the first-up defeat of Golden Slipper winner Vancouver, O’Shea still regards the Gai Waterhouse-trained colt as the horse to beat in next month’s Golden Rose.
O’Shea will saddle up Inner Circle and Shards in Saturday’s Up And Coming Stakes at Randwick, hopeful one or both colts can earn the right to oppose Vancouver in the $1 million Golden Rose on September 12.
The pair have solid two-year-old formlines with Inner Circle fourth to stablemate Tarquin in the Group Two Pago Pago Stakes during the autumn while Shards was runner-up to subsequent Group One winner Press Statement at Rosehill in May.
“I’m still pretty bullish about last season’s form,” O’Shea said.
“You’ve only got to look at those horses like Sebring Sun and Tempt Me Not, they ran around in two-year-old company in the autumn and they’re all coming out and winning now.
“I still think if you’re going to win the Golden Rose you’re going to have to beat Vancouver and the likes of those horses.”
Inner Circle finished third at his return on a heavy track late last month and will wear blinkers for the first time on Saturday.
Godolphin has long earmarked him as a stakes-class galloper and O’Shea is keeping the faith.
“I think he’ll run well, he gets a nice draw and we’ve got the utmost confidence in him as a horse,” he said.
Shards has likewise been identified as a colt capable of making sharp improvement in his three-year-old season.
He showed natural ability in three runs as a youngster and has furnished according to his trainer.
“We always had him pegged as a horse that would improve dramatically when he got into the spring. He looks to have done that physically,” O’Shea said.
“He’s definitely improved and he’s on an upward spiral so you never know where they can end up.”
Italy will tackle the Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) for the three-year-old fillies after a first-up fifth against older mares at Warwick Farm.
She conceded weight and experience that day and O’Shea believes she will be suited back to her own age on Saturday.
Article from justhorseracing.com.au