By Ray Hickson
Time is on the side of John O’Shea’s promising filly Le Gai Soleil, who chases four straight wins at Kensington on Saturday, with the trainer more than happy to take a patient approach.
That means the lure of impending spring black type races isn’t a priority but at the same time the Heineken 3 Handicap (1550m) may not be the last time we see her this campaign.
Le Gai Soleil made it three straight with an impressive win over the same course back on July 1 and the step up to Saturday grade now is all part of the plan.
“We’re going to keep racing her until she says she’s had enough then give her a break and come back in the autumn,’’ O’Shea said.
“I think she has a lot to offer as a nice middle distance mare going forward.
“If she can win on Saturday that will add a bit of merit to her program and would have got through her grades nicely through the off season.
“I’ve got a nice race picked out for her in a fortnight and I thought this was a good progression for her.”
That race is likely a Benchmark 78 for fillies and mares over 1800m or, possibly, an open Benchmark 78 over 1600m at Royal Randwick on August 1.
The three-year-old will hold the hopes of a lot of punters come the final race at Kensington, she was $1.75 with TAB on Thursday, and O’Shea said don’t be surprised if she’s a lot more prominent in the run than at her previous win.
On that occasion James McDonald rode her like a good thing, snagging back to last and circling on a track playing to those coming down the outside. Rachel King rides this weekend and from barrier two may have more options depending on the pattern.
She ran a last 600m of 35.81 (Punter's Intelligence) in the heavy ground, over four lengths quicker than the next best, including a sizzling 11.49 from the 400m-200m.
“We’re very happy with her, it’ll be interesting to see how the track plays,’’ O’Shea said.
“It’s been a tough week weatherwise. But she doesn’t need to be as far back as she was the other day and if (Rachel) can just get her into a comfortable position I’m sure she will be very competitive.
“I think she still has a lot of improvement physically to come. If we can bring her along steady I’m sure she will pay us back.’’
Le Gai Soleil wins at Kensington on July 1
Le Gai Soleil is one of several emerging horses in the O’Shea stable at present and he’s expecting to see some dividends from his patient approach in the new season.
There’s the unbeaten Lost And Running, who we won’t see until summer at least, and Opacity who could be given the chance to make it into the $7.5m Golden Eagle at the end of October.
“She’s one of a number of young horses we’ve been very patient with and are starting to reap the rewards,’’ he said.
“We are building. I have a lovely group of young progressive horses that have strung victories together in succession and that adds merit to the patience we’ve shown them.
“Lost And Running will stay out until the autumn, he’s a very immature horse so if we give him a good break he will be fine.’’