Godolphin trainer John O’Shea expects to have at least one genuine ATC Australian Derby prospect emerge from his two runners in the Eskimo Prince Stakes.
But his pick as the three-year-old most likely to make it to the Derby might not be the obvious one as Shards and Tarquin will be among seven horses resuming in the Group Three sprint at Randwick on Saturday.
O’Shea is more confident about Tarquin than Shards being a proper Classic horse, after the latter was given his chance to stay in the Victoria Derby.
After leading until late and finishing second in a Derby lead-up at Moonee Valley, Shards wound up 16 lengths from the winner Tarzino when ninth at Flemington.
O’Shea said the Rosehill Guineas would shape the pointy end of Shards’ autumn.
If O’Shea’s suspicions are confirmed in the Guineas, the Doncaster Mile will loom as a better Randwick target for Shards.
“I’m not entirely certain of him at the 2400 metres of the Derby and it could be that the shorter race is more suitable for him,” O’Shea said.
“We’ll get him to the Guineas and then make a decision,” O’Shea said.
Tarquin resumes for the stable’s No.1 jockey James McDonald after making an early summer cameo when beaten a nostril over 1400m at Randwick in December.
It was the colt’s only run since his minor placing in the Group One Champagne Stakes in April.
“He’s looked like a Derby colt for a while and I’m looking forward to getting him out to a bit more distance,” O’Shea said.
O’Shea will also produce the stable’s latest import when Arab Dawn makes his Australian debut against unbeaten New Zealander Hasselhoof.
Arab Dawn was a Royal Ascot winner last year and steps out for O’Shea as a horse from the same mould as Contributer, Magic Hurricane and Hartnell – three Godolphin imports who have Australian Group One races during the past 12 months.
“We’re getting to know and understand him, he’s got speed and obviously he can stick on. It will be interesting to get him to the races,” O’Shea said.