By Ray Hickson
A spring campaign aimed at the $7.5m Golden Eagle is on the line for promising three-year-old Opacity at Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer John O’Shea says while Opacity’s job in the TAB Handicap (1600m) hasn’t been made an easy one with 59kg and barrier 14 it’s a good test of his potential to measure up against the best of his age come the second running of the Golden Eagle (1500m) on October 31.
Opacity took his record to four wins from six starts with an impressive performance at Randwick two weeks ago and a fifth win on Saturday is imperative to give his rating a boost.
In the inaugural Golden Eagle an 82 rating was enough to sneak in but all bar one of the 16 horse field was rated between 94 and 116.
“If he can win, and he’s given every indication he is going through his grades well, he would need to pick up another win along the way and that would just about make his way into a race like the Golden Eagle,’’ O’Shea said.
“If he couldn’t win on Saturday we’d be up against it.’’
The gelding is $3.50 favourite on Saturday and isn't currently listed in TAB’s all-in Golden Eagle market headed by Alligator Blood at $4.50.
Hugh Bowman was able to give Opacity a perfect run when he downed Miss Einstein over 1500m second-up from a spell and O’Shea said Bowman will need to produce a pearler but that both horse and jockey are capable of rising to the challenge.
“He has an awkward draw and a bunch of weight but he is a progressive horse going through his grades whereas lot of the other horses don’t trouble the scorer with a great deal of regularity,’’ h said.
“We’ll need all of Hugh’s nous for a decent run in the race where he can be effective.
“He likes to put a lot of ones next to his name and is a horse on the way up. Drier ground would be more to his liking, albeit he won on heavy ground the other day.’’
O’Shea, who has the exciting Lost And Running pencilled in to have his next start at Warwick Farm on June 17, has a strong team engaged at Randwick and the day starts with emerging youngster Acrophobic in the Castelvecchio @ Arrowfield Handicap (1400m).
It’s been a patient play from O’Shea with the colt, who debuted with a strong win at Warwick Farm back on May 13, and he says Acrophobic will be a horse to remember come early 2021.
“I think he’s probably more an autumn horse, he will keep improving with time,’’ he said.
“His half-sister (Quintessa) ran third in the Oaks so it is a family that matures a little bit later.
“He’s showing early in his career he has ability but I think whatever he does now he will be significantly better later on.’’
Since his debut Acrophobic, $2.60 favourite with TAB, has been back for a “burn around” at the trials and O’Shea said he’ll present in fine fettle for his second start.
He says at this point he has no reason to fear barrier one with the rail out 9m on a wet track but that’s in jockey James McDonald’s hands.
“He’s had a good week with a good gallop on Tuesday morning so he’s in great order,’’ he said.
“The option was to run him in an unsuitable race 10 days after his win which I thought wasn’t ideal considering he had a hard run first-up.
Opacity wins at Randwick on May 23
“We took our time with a trial in between and a view to bringing him to Randwick where James could ride him.
“He’s made good improvement, the trial has really helped him. It’s on his home ground and there’s plenty to say he can run well again.’’
The Randwick trainer sees no reason why Kirwan’s Lane can’t continue his rise through the grades in the Quincy Seltzer Handicap (1800m) though concedes the barrier makes it a tougher task.
The gelding was an easy, and popular winner, at Canterbury on May 27 and at $3.50 with TAB is yet another early favourite for the O’Shea-McDonald combination.
“He did a great job the other day with a good run in the race, he’s not going to get as efficient a run this week,’’ he said.
“I think you’ll need a horse that is pretty fit on Saturday, it will be testing ground and he’s a very fit racehorse with a good performance at the trip and I think that is going to be very important.
“If Mac can give him a nice passage in transit I think he will be very hard to hold out.”