John O’Shea admits he is working to a strategy based on patience to deliver spring carnival success for his Randwick stable.
As such, O’Shea will barely be a fringe player when it comes to numbers for Saturday’s Warwick Stakes meeting at Warwick Farm – the most significant card of racing in Sydney for four months.
While trainers like Chris Waller and Gai Waterhouse will wheel out a host of spring contenders, O’Shea’s only black-type runner will be Diamond Oasis in the Group Three Up And Coming Stakes (1300m).
A Lonhro colt, Diamond Oasis will resume as a barrier trial winner after running above O’Shea’s expectations last season.
He will be the first of O’Shea’s serious spring horses to return to the races in what the trainer says is a deliberate low-key approach to the new season.
“When I decided I didn’t have a horse for the Golden Rose I decided to hold most of my three-year-olds back,” O’Shea said.
“We’ve had about 30 horses at the barrier trials over the past week or so but it’s a long spring and I don’t think you can dance every dance.”
In his debut season, Diamond Oasis acted on raw ability to post a city midweek win and stakes placings at Randwick and the Gold Coast.
“His pedigree suggests he was always going to be a better three-year-old so he’s done a good job as a two-year-old,” O’Shea said.
Diamond Oasis is a $7 chance in a race where the Waller-trained Vilanova is the early favourite at $3.80.
Vilanova has drawn the inside marble with Diamond Oasis to start at the opposite side of the track from the widest gate in the 11-horse field.
The draw and the possibility of Warwick Farm racing to a pattern that has favoured front-runners in recent meetings has O’Shea cautious about predicting a winning return.
“He’s a quality colt but he’s got an awful gate and he’ll have to go back from there which is a worry because it’s been hard to make up ground at Warwick Farm,” O’Shea said.