By Ray Hickson
Trainer John O’Shea is keeping his feet on the ground for now with the unbeaten Lost And Running who makes his much anticipated return at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
A bit has happened since we last saw Lost And Running, who has had knee surgery since he scored his second runaway win back in June, but O’Shea said the gelding is in A1 shape following two barrier trial wins and can only expect him to perform.
There are still some steps on the ladder to climb, the Sky Racing Active Handicap (1000m) is only a Benchmark 72 but contains enough quality to give the Randwick trainer a guide on where the four-year-old might stand heading into the autumn.
“He’s been great, he’s had a good foundation and a nice preparation going into the first-up run,’’ he said.
“In the second trial we asked him to do a bit more and over a bit further so that’s where that came from.
“We’ll let him dictate how far he is comfortable to go. It’s a good enough race and if he can run well here it’s indicative that he has come back well and he can be competitive going forward.”
In his two wins to date Lost And Running has shown versatility – he drew wide at Scone on debut and sat off the course before racing clear while at Kensington in June he led and ran the race’s fastest last 600m (34.67, Punter’s Intelligence) and surged away.
O’Shea said he’s pleased Lost And Running, $1.80 with TAB, has drawn an outside barrier so James McDonald will be able to avoid being hemmed away on the fence.
“Hopefully he gets into a good rhythm and within striking distance turning for home and I’m sure he will run well,’’ he said.
“Sometimes you can end up, from those soft draws at Warwick Farm, a little bit compromised punching forward to hold your spot. Even if he is three deep with cover he is a big galloping horse who doesn’t need to be cluttered up.”
There’ll be no excuses from the O’Shea camp if Fashchanel isn’t able to break through in the TAB Handicap (1400m) after seconds at both runs since a break.
The blueblood mare, $2.80 with TAB, has had the misfortune of bumping into the exciting April Rain and Harmony Rose, the latter is running in Saturday’s Group 1 Randwick Guineas, when not quite in peak fitness.
“She hasn’t disappointed in either of her performances,’’ O’Shea said.
“We felt that she acquitted herself very well where she wasn’t quite fit. She’d had a long spell and we were adamant she needed a bit of racing to tighten herself up.
Lost And Running wins a trial at Randwick on February 16
“She’s had genuine excuses at her first two runs in terms of her condition, that’s not the case on Wednesday.”
The blinkers go on Syracuse in the Vinery Stud Handicap (1100m) and O’Shea said they should give the filly every chance to improve on her last start second at Kensington two weeks ago.
She ran a nice fourth behind Hilal on debut then drew level with Bourbon Flyer last time but wasn’t able to match him over the concluding stages.
“I just felt she lost concentration the last 100m of both her runs, it’s more about her not knowing how to finish the race off,’’ O’Shea said.
“It’s an opportunity to get away from the Kensington track which can throw up the odd obscure form reference. She gets a good run and there’s no reason why she couldn’t be competitive again.”