By Ray Hickson
Trainer John O’Shea is confident he’s winning the battle in correcting promising filly Rocha Clock’s barrier issues and would like to send her out on a positive note at Randwick on Saturday.
It’s been an eventful first preparation for the three-year-old who won her first two starts despite tardy getaways but O’Shea saw improvement in her last start second two weeks ago and wants to see it again in the TAB Venue Mode Handicap (1600m).
“I thought she made a massive step forward last time, in terms of her race manners and what she did on the track,’’ O’Shea said.
Rocha Clock was only marginally slowly away over the Randwick mile, and was able to settle third in the run, and while she wasn’t able to run down Mr Dependable the trainer left pretty happy.
The filly strikes a similar event on Saturday and will meet runner-up Bigboyroy 0.5kg worse for beating him home narrowly after O’Shea used Robbie Dolan’s 1.5kg claim last start.
Tom Marquand takes over the ride and will partner all three of O’Shea’s runners at Randwick.
O’Shea, who has already had five city winners in January, said there’s no reason Rocha Clock won’t be competitive and expects her to be hard to beat if she does get the start right.
“I thought if we give her one more run where she did everything right we could turn her out in a good frame of mind,’’ he said.
“When she comes back hopefully we’ve ironed out those kinks in her.’’
A short break also awaits emerging mare Killer Instinct, engaged in the Sky Racing Active Handicap (1800m), as O’Shea eyes a couple of a stakes races in March.
Killer Instinct showed good race sense in scoring over the same trip on the Kensington track on New Year’s Day, sitting behind the leader and striding away once the gap opened.
“She’s a really nice progressive mare, she’s learning her craft really well,’’ he said.
“We’ll look at Saturday’s race and make sure it’s the right race for her and all going well she’ll have another run before going for a break.’’
A race like the Group 3 Epona Stakes (1900m) on Golden Slipper Day is right on O’Shea’s radar for Killer Instinct and the trainer has elected to save her for another day.
The barrier gods have finally shined on Southern Lad for what shapes as a good contest in the Bisley Workwear Handicap (1200m).
The gelding has drawn the outside gate twice and one from the outside in his three runs back and comes off a gallant second behind Taniko, who he meets 1.5kg better, over the same course on December 21.
“He just needs a barrier, he’s had no luck with them. He’s racing very consistently so hopefully he continues to do that,’’ O’Shea said.
Southern Lad runs second at Randwick on December 21
Punter’s Intelligence sectional data showed Southern Lad ran his first 600m in 34.33, sitting on the pace, over six lengths faster than Taniko was asked for the same section (35.41).
The leader Yulong Yuheng dropped out to run last while Southern Lad ran the third fastest last 200m of 11.43 to be beaten half a length.
Meanwhile, O’Shea revealed talented stayer Berdibek won’t be seen again until later this year and is being turned out to focus on the spring.
Berdibek, who won impressively over 1800m at Randwick on December 28, was nominated for the January Cup (2000m) but the in-form trainer is not keen to overtax the grey.
“He’s always been a difficult horse and only seems to be able to cope with a couple of runs each prep,’’ he said.
“He’s had a nice win so we’ll pop him out now.’’