Southern Lad will be looking to continue trainer John O’Shea’s outstanding mid-season form at Randwick, and notch a victory that has the potential to set him on a Group One path.
O’Shea has trained 14 metropolitan winners this season, nine of them since January 1 including a treble on the Kensington track on New Years’ Day and a double at Randwick two weeks ago.
Southern Lad has formed part of the Randwick horseman’s formidable summer team and O’Shea says his current resurgence has come on the back of patience.
“You’ve got to give horses time to develop and get the miles in their legs so we’ve been very patient hoping it would come to fruition,” O’Shea said.
“It seems to be coming along very nicely at the minute so we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully we can continue to improve all the time.”
Southern Lad finished second at two of his first three runs this campaign before breaking through with a deserved last-start win over 1200 metres at Randwick.
The five-year-old will chase his first black-type win in Saturday’s Listed Carrington Stakes at Randwick and has come up with barrier seven in a field reduced to 12 with the scratching of Crack Me Up, who will run in Brisbane.
Cradle Mountain is set to take his place in the feature after trainer Clare Cunningham scratched him from two races in Melbourne.
“I was happy with the draw. If we can just be a little bit positive out of the gates hopefully he can get into a nice spot,” O’Shea said.
Along with facing a class test, Southern Lad will be in new territory distance-wise.
Connections have been keen to stretch the horse out beyond his usual 1200m and O’Shea believes Saturday’s race is the right opportunity.
“We’d been wanting to make sure he was executing his race plans properly before we stretched him out,” O’Shea said.
“When he got it all done properly the other Saturday, we were happy to step him out in trip.
“Until you see them do it you have to have reservations but the reality is, he’s by Ocean Park who was a 10 furlong horse, and he relaxes well so hopefully he’s got the right grounding.”
Southern Lad will go to the paddock after Saturday but if he can wrap up his campaign with a win, he will earn a shot at the Group One Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm in June.
He was a clear $2.60 TAB fixed odds favourite on Thursday, ahead of Redouble and Godolphin’s Gaulois both at $6.50.