The planning and execution from John O’Shea heading into Saturday’s George Main Stakes meeting has been flawless as his best performer, Lion’s Roar, and possibly his best horse, Lost And Running, ramp up their spring campaigns.
It is probably not grand final day for either of them, but it has been a date circled on O’Shea’s calendar since the beginning of the year, and, when you add Furious Stakes runner-up Robodira in the Tea Rose Stakes and stayer Berdibek in Friday’s Newcastle Cup, it is an exciting time.
“I knew we weren’t going to get too involved early in the spring but this weekend was going to be pretty important,” O’Shea said. “I’m pretty relaxed about the weekend because we have had good preparations.”
Lion’s Roar gave O’Shea his first group 1 since his Godolphin tender when he stormed home to take the Randwick Guineas second-up in the autumn, and it has been the plan to get him back to the Randwick mile at the same of his preparation in the George Main Stakes.
O’Shea is confident that he has the right form from the autumn but is worried he is just a touch behind this preparation.
“I think the three-year-old form from last year has been shown to be really strong. The top three – Montefilia, Mo’unga and Lion’s Roar – have shown they are pretty good and up to matching the older horses,” he said.
“Lion’s Roar is still a bit big and burly and might be a run behind, but our view has always been that he is going to the Epsom, where he is very well weighted because he gets three kilos off Mo’unga for beating him in the Randwick Guineas. He will run well on the weekend, but there is a lot more to come from him.”
Lion’s Roar is the group 1 winner, but Lost And Running has won six of his seven starts and has been locked in for the TAB’s slot for The Everest before he has contested a group race. He steps up to group 2 company against three group 1 winners on Saturday as part of the plan hatched at the beginning of the year, and O’Shea is comfortable about his chances of being the star of the spring.
“I said to the owners that he is going along good for a horse you are going to get $8 about against the best sprinters in the country,” O’Shea said. “He has come a long already. It’s great that we have the slot because we know when he will be at his top.