By Ray Hickson
A year ago John O’Shea had a race like the Golden Eagle pencilled in as an option for Opacity and rightly so after winning five of his seven starts in the first half of 2020.
Ultimately it all happened a bit too soon for the talented four-year-old but O'Shea said after an impressive last start win he’s confident Opacity is well placed to repeat the dose in the Keith Free OAM Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The gelding, aided by a gun ride from apprentice Reece Jones, accounted for open class company over a mile two weeks ago and while the task is different with 6kg more, back to a Benchmark 88, this time O’Shea said the horse is in his sweet spot at the moment.
“His third and fourth run is always good for him, the fact he can get his toe into the ground a little is a good help as well,’’ O’Shea said.
“I think he appreciated having a longer break and he’s come back in great order. Consequently, it’s reflecting in his performance and I’ve been very happy with all his runs.
“That lovely sweet spot between a mile and 2000m is great for him.”
A 3kg claiming apprentice will be on board Opacity again, to reduce his weight to 57kg, but it won’t be Reece Jones and O’Shea elected to hand emerging apprentice Tyler Schiller the ride.
Jones will be riding at Newcastle on Saturday and the Randwick trainer said he’s been impressed with the way Schiller has developed throughout the season.
“We wanted a 3kg claimer and Reece has done the right thing, he’s probably making too much headway at this early stage and is going back to the provincials,’’ O’Shea said.
“Tyler is at a different stage where he’s done all the hard yards and is now ready to come to town.
“He’s a confident young boy and Opacity is an easy horse to ride so they should get along just nicely.”
O’Shea envisages Opacity in a spot just better than midfield from barrier one, as he was two weeks ago, with the likes of noted on-pacers Gone Bye and Toryjoy setting a genuine speed.
“He jumped very well the other day and took a position and it’d be remiss of us not to let him do that again this week,’’ he said.
“Ideally he should get a similar type of run, not far off them throughout the race.”
Meanwhile, O’Shea is expecting the Wicklow form to hold up at Newcastle on Saturday when Don Arcangelo runs in the Sharp Office Plate (2320m).
The three-year-old was a winner over 1800m at Hawkesbury two runs ago before finishing eighth, when left flat footed in a slowly run race, behind Wicklow at the same trip at Rosehill on June 5.
Opacity wins at Randwick on June 12
The fourth placed horse Stylebender has since won out of that race and Don Arcangelo comes back to a Class 1 and Maiden Plate.
“He drew an awkward gate and it was one of those races where everything got away from him by the time he got going,’’ O’Shea said.
“He’s a horse that is in need of a bit further ground and 10 furlongs and further is nice for him. I have no issue with him with class it’s just a matter of where the races are.”
O’Shea’s TAB Everest runner Lost And Running returns to the stable on Monday to begin his preparation for the $15m sprint classic having been secured by TAB for its slot.
He’s expected to resume in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick in September.