Three year old Exosphere has been installed the short priced favourite for the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on the first day off ‘The Championships’ on Saturday.
Following the release of the T J Smith field on Tuesday, Exosphere was placed at the top of the market order at Ladbrokes.com.au at $2.80 ahead of the Team Hawkes trained Chautauqua at $3.50.
Trainer John O’Shea is willing to forget Exosphere’s last start unplaced run when fourth to Chautauqua in the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 20 and expects the Lonhro colt to bounce back to his best in the T J Smith Stakes.
Exopshere was also beaten as an odds on favourite when fourth to Japonisme in the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
“He trialled brilliantly after coming back from Melbourne and it seems to have brought him on a lot in his coat,” O’Shea said.
“We just have to forget about his last two runs at Flemington and trust in what he’s shown us at home – and that’s been outstanding. He’s blossomed over the past week or so.”
Exosphere proved to be the top three year old during the 2015 Sydney Spring Carnival with three wins, including a two and quarter lengths victory in the Group 1 $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on September 12.
That Group 1 win was sandwiched in between wins in the Group 2 $175,000 MTA NSW The Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill on August 29 and the Group 2 $300,000 Canterbury BMW Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on October 3.
Exosphere has drawn barrier four in the fifteen horse T J Smith Stakes field and will be ridden by stable jockey James McDonald who carried the Godolphin royal blue colours to victory for O’Shea four times at Rosehill last Saturday.
McDonald and O’Shea combined to win with Federal in the Security Handicap (1400m), It’s Somewhat in the Group 3 $150,000 The Daily Telegraph Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m), Old North in the Group 2 $175,000 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) and with Havana Cooler in the Group 3 $150,000 Hyland Race Colours Doncaster Prelude (1500m).
O’Shea will also saddle up $41 chance Knoydart who has drawn barrier twelve with Sam Clipperton in the saddle.
Three times Group 1 winner Chautauqua is coming off a last start third to The Quarterback in the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 12 with Tommy Berry replacing Dwayne Dunn.
Berry is no stranger to Chautauqua and the pair combined to win two of the five year old grey’s three Group 1 wins with victory in last year’s weight for age T J Smith Stakes as well a win in the Group 1 $1m Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
T J Smith Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.80 Exosphere, $3.50 Chautauqua, $9 English, $13 Terravista, $17 Delectation, $21 Fell Swoop, Flamberge, Our Boy Malachi, $26 Dothraki, Shiraz, $34 Rebel Dane, $41 Knoydart, $51 Fast ‘N’ Rocking, $61 Famous Seamus, $81 Boss Lane.