By Ray Hickson
Of all the confirmed TAB Everest runners so far it’s the emerging Lost And Running that may have a point to prove at Randwick on Saturday but trainer John O’Shea says he doesn’t need to win to show he’s on target.
Don’t mistake O’Shea’s comments as being casual or blasé about what faces the five-year-old in a white hot edition of the Group 2 $500,000 Bowermans Commercial Furniture Shorts (1100m).
So much will be learned about the TAB Everest in the space of just over 60 seconds with Nature Strip, Masked Crusader, Gytrash, Eduardo and Rothfire among his rivals but what O’Shea wants to see is more about Lost And Running than the others.
“The race means a lot more to others than it does to us on Saturday,’’ O’Shea said.
“As long as he’s doing his best work in the last 100m and he’s competitive throughout the race we will be more than happy.
“I think a different sort of horse will be required to win the Everest than what will be required to win on Saturday.”
What O’Shea means by that is, despite the small difference in distance, 1100m races and 1200m races at Randwick are very often different beasts.
He said it’s important to go through the motions of preparing for the TAB Everest by competing in the traditional lead ups, the races that have yet to miss in providing the Everest winner each year.
“If you’re going to set your horse for the Everest you’ve really got to run in the lead ups at Randwick,’’ he said.
“Those that think they can run in 1000m races at the Valley and think they are going to be competitive are pretty much delusional. All the winners have had one thing in common – that they have run in the lead ups at Randwick.
“It’s a different cup of tea the Randwick course proper and you need to be effective at Randwick to be in the finish.”
Lost And Running is the new kid on the block in the sprinting ranks. He’s won six from seven and graduated to Listed company winning the Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill in May.
He was handed his slot by TAB which gives O’Shea the luxury of being very one-eyed about when to have the horse peaking. And everything he’s seen in the lead up, including last week’s impressive trial alongside Classique Legend, is saying he can make a positive start without needing to make a statement.
If he gets over the top of the world’s highest rated sprinter on Saturday then happy days. The gelding was a $7.50 chance with TAB on Thursday and $8 in Everest all-in betting.
“He’s got a lot of improvement understandably because the races where he is going to most effective are the Everest itself and the race after the Everest,’’ he said.
“For us it is more beneficial to draw a bit out. We’re mindful that he has a lot of improvement in him and to make sure he is most effective in those races.
“Because his preparation has been so smooth we just knew if we got him where we needed him to be in terms of his fitness and his weight the rest would look after itself. I think it will get a bit more exciting if he performs well and we head into the Everest with a genuine chance.”
Randwick Guineas winner Lion’s Roar is expected to improve on his first-up effort but O’Shea says the key to him is the track condition so is hoping for an upgrade or two closer to the Group 1 $1m Fujitsu General George Main Stakes (1600m).
Lost And Running finishes second in a trial at Randwick on September 10
The four-year-old beat one horse home behind Zaaki in the Tramway over 1400m two weeks ago and is definitely looking for a return to the Randwick mile.
“That’s ideal, I’m not sure whether the track conditions will be ideal,’’ O’Shea said.
“He’s wanting firm ground and if you go through his autumn form when he was on top of the ground he was very effective.
“Slow to heavy ground for him is not ideal, he has a good turn of speed and it dulls his turn of foot.”
Lion’s Roar has 52kg in next month’s Group 1 $1.5m TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m).
O’Shea said while the beaten margin first-up wasn’t overly flattering the circumstances of the race didn’t work in his favour.
“He just lacked a bit of dash but more importantly the race didn’t work out for him,’’ he said.
“Kerrin (McEvoy) spent a bit of time getting him to relax and getting cover and by the time he got him back it was time to get going again.
“So back to the tempo of a mile I’m sure he will be more effective.”