Trainer John O’Shea has revealed that Exosphere will be set for a first-up tilt at the 2016 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington on February 20.
Exosphere started his 2015 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a fast-finishing win in the Group 2 Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 29 and he stamped himself as the best three-year-old in Australia with wins in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at the same venue on September 12 and the Group 1 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 3.
The Lonhro colt missed out on an opportunity to take on the older horses this campaign after he failed to fire in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on October 31, but O’Shea told Sky Racing HQ this morning that Exosphere would contest the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes before potentially having a crack at the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at the same venue on March 12.
“He will run first-up in the Lightning and then we will see what happens after that,” O’Shea said.
“We have been endeavouring to give him an opportunity to run well down there with the chance of possibly running in the Newmarket, but if not he would probably come up and run in the Canterbury Stakes.
“James didn’t think that there was an issue with him down the straight and always though that he would be well-suited down the straight.
“We will get there in February and see what happens with regards to the surface and if it is a fairer surface it might be a little bit better.”
Exosphere started the Coolmore Stud Stakes as a dominant favourite, but he failed to show his usual turn-of-foot and missed the placings in what was a disappointing effort.
O’Shea believes that Exosphere was caught in the worst part of the track in the Coolmore Stud Stakes, but he admits that the three-year-old was unable to replicate his earlier spring form.
“I was probably a little bit harder on him on the day and straight after the race it was a little bit disappointing, but as the day turned out it probably wasn’t advantageous to be where he was,” O’Shea said
“The other thing is that it is always difficult for horses that put in a monumentally good performance to replicate that performance and there is no doubting his performance at Randwick on Epsom Day was very good.
“It was a combination of a few things.”
Exosphere has recorded five wins from his eight starts and he has accumulated over $1 million in prizemoney.