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Kirwan's Challenge To Wrap Super Season On A High

By Ray Hickson

It’s been a breakthrough season for John O’Shea’s honest galloper Kirwan’s Lane and he has the chance to cap it at Rosehill on Saturday as the winningest horse on Sydney tracks.

Trainer John O'Shea (Pic: Bradley Photos)

The gelding is one of nine horses to record four Sydney metro wins in 2020/21 – including stablemate and TAB Everest slot holder Lost And Running – and O’Shea has been rapt with how he’s progressed considering he started the season with a 67 rating.

He finds himself in a second successive stakes race in the Listed $150,000 XXXX Winter Challenge (1500m).

“He’s gone up 20 points in the ratings, it’s a matter of him getting the right scenario on Saturday then he can have a break and we see what happens in the summer,’’ O’Shea said.

“He’s a very happy horse, he looks like he’s going to get a surface to suit and he has a nice draw.”

Kirwan’s Lane, $5 with TAB on Thursday, ran down Ellsberg to win a Benchmark 88 over 1500m at Rosehill, on a soft 5, three starts ago before placing behind stablemate Opacity in open company at Randwick.

O’Shea sent him to Flemington for the Listed Winter Championship Final (1600m) and while he finished seventh he was beaten less than two lengths.

“He didn’t have any luck in Melbourne the other day, he drew the one and the fence was completely off but he didn’t disgrace himself,’’ O’Shea said.

“He likes drying ground, to get his toe in a little bit. When it is really heavy he struggles. Hopefully he’s back in a better scenario.”

Maddi Rocks makes her debut for O’Shea in the City Tattersalls Club Handicap (1200m) with the blinkers on for the first time.

The Randwick trainer said there’s a lot to like about her though is concerned where Tom Sherry will find himself on the mare from barrier eight in the 12 horse field.

“I’ve been really happy with her, she has an awkward draw but she had good form coming to us,’’ he said.

“If you go back to her run in the Magic Millions there’s no better form than form around Krone.”

The four-year-old was beaten under two lengths by Krone, who subsequently won the Coolmore Classic in the autumn, on the Gold Coast and all four of her wins have been on good ground.

O’Shea said while she’s generally been a backmarker in her career he’s not sure what impact the shades will have on her.

“She is first go in blinkers so she may be able to be a little further forward, if she gets the right run in the race they’ll know she’s there,’’ he said.

The penny hasn’t quite dropped with import Sound Of Cannons but O’Shea believes the horse is not far away from working it all out so is expecting a handy performance in the Schweppes Handicap (2400m).

Kirwan's Lane wins at Rosehill on May 22

The gelding was hampered at a vital stage late in his close third behind Spencer over the same course back on July 3 and while his two best runs this prep have been on heavy ground he’s not concerned about a drier surface.

“He was pretty unlucky the other day, he gets to map well with no weight and there’s no reason why he won’t run well again,’’ O’Shea said.

“He’s been a horse that has struggled to adapt in terms of his racing manners. He’s finally getting the message and as a result he’s racing consistently.

“Ultimately he will run two miles, he’s a genuine stayer, but he wasn’t relaxing sufficiently. Sometimes they take 12-18 months to adapt and once you get them in that frame of mind they’re fine.”

All the fields, form and replays for Saturday's Rosehill meeting

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