While wet weather wiped out Malice’s chance to run in the Villiers, trainer John O’Shea is optimistic about the flow of his altered preparation.
The gelding carries Godolphin’s hopes of in Friday’s Listed Gosford Gold Cup (2100m).
Their retained English rider James Doyle will get his first look at Gosford as he aims to repeat his Listed ATC Cup (2000m) win aboard Malice at Rosehill on December 3.
O’Shea had planned to drop Malice back to 1600m for the Villiers Stakes two weeks after the win but abandoned those plans when the rain came.
“We had a Villiers program in mind for him him but weather intervened and in the end it lacked continuity,” O’Shea said.
Instead Malice ran in the Group Three Summer Cup (2000m) at Randwick on Boxing Day, finishing fourth behind dominant winner Red Excitement who he meets 2kgs better at the weights in the Cup.
“I think he can be forgiven for his run the other day at Randwick when he finished just behind them,” O’Shea said.
“The small field should be a help and I think he’ll run better.”
Victorian premier jockey Craig Williams, who has been booked to partner Godolphin’s chances in the two other features, is set to have his second career ride at the NSW provincial track.
Williams will ride Asinara in the Group Three Belle Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) as she looks to improve on her fourth at Randwick on Boxing Day when carrying 61kg.
“Last time out she had a lot of weight and ran well,” O’Shea said.
“She drops to 54kg here and I think she has a really good chance despite the wide gate.”
Grunderzeit represents the stable in the Listed Takeover Target Classic (1200m) with Williams taking the ride.
The gelding ran third in the Listed Canterbury Classic on New Year’s Eve over the same distance after jumping from the widest barrier.
“He’s drawn wide again, but he’s trained on well and if he can get some luck I think he can make his presence felt,” O’Shea said.