Trainer John O’Shea’s highest rated two year old Astern is back in contention for the Group 1 $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill next Saturday after winning a barrier trial at Warwick Farm on Thursday.
Astern is unbeaten from two race starts but had to be scratched from the Group 2 $300,000 UNSW Todman Stakes (1200m) at Randwick last Saturday, his final Golden Slipper lead up race, after registering a slightly elevated white blood cell count.
O’Shea was confident that Astern would recover quickly and that was proven correct when he raced away to a four lengths win in an 804m barrier trial with James McDonald in the saddle.
McDonald said that the Medaglia D’Oro colt needed a good hit out after missing a run last week and was happy with the trial performance.
“I did a little bit on him for the sake of him having missed that run,” McDonald told AAP.
“He trialled as well as a good horse could trial. If you put the top five market horses (for the Golden Slipper) in the trial they would have all done the same.”
Astern was quick out of the barriers and then was restrained early by McDonald before he let the colt stride up outside the leader coming to the home turn.
Half way down the straight McDonald released the brakes and Astern careered away to record an impressive trial win.
Astern began his career with a two and half lengths win in a 1000m Randwick two year old Plate on December 5 and then held off the Peter and Paul Snowden trained Defcon when he led all of the way to win the Group 2 $250,000 UVEX Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on February 20.
After that win O’Shea declared him as the stable’s number one Golden Slipper chance.
“It was very comforting to see him do it at both ends last start,” O’Shea said of his Silver Slipper win.
“He went into that race with plenty of improvement in him so it was great to see him come through the race as strongly as he did.”
Astern is currently on the third line of Golden Slipper betting at Ladbrokes.com.au at $8 alongside of the Gai Waterhouse trained Kiss And Make Up.
Caulfield trainer Mick Price provides the top two in the market order with his Blue Diamond Stakes quinella, Extreme Choice at $2.80 and Flying Artie at $6.50.
Golden Slipper market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.80 Extreme Choice, $6.50 Flying Artie, $8 Kiss And Make Up, Astern, $10 Capitalist, $15 Good Standing, $17 Defcon, Scarlet Rain, Yankee Rose, $21 Weatherly, $26 Calliope, French Fern, Honesty Prevails, In The Vanguard, Souchez.