Leading Sydney trainer John O’Shea will replace Peter Snowden as the head trainer of the Australian Darley operation at the end of the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
O’Shea was considered a near certainty to receive the plumb position and he was formally offered the role by Sheik Mohammed last week but an official announcement was not made until yesterday afternoon.
The 18-time Group 1 winning trainer admits that it will be tough to follow in the footsteps of Snowden, referring to himself as the David Moyes of Australian racing, but told Racing Ahead that he is looking forward to get stuck into the new role.
“Henry Plumptre rang me a few weeks ago and offered me the opportunity to take over from Peter,” O’Shea said.
“Obviously it was very well received and after a bit of consultation and a good chat with Henry, we were able to move forward and make arrangements about taking the job.
“It is very hard to get to where we are and hopefully I will be able to continue on and do justice to the job.
“Peter will be in charge right through the autumn carnival in Sydney and then I will take over in May and have a few runners in Brisbane for the winter to try and get my head around how it operates.
“It is very hard to get to where we are and hopefully I will be able to continue on and do justice to the job.”
O’Shea was flown to Dubai to meet Sheik Mohammed last week and believes that he struck an immediate rapport with his new boss; describing the day that they spent together as one of the best of his life.
“It was an unbelievable day really,” O’Shea said.
“I drove around the desert with him for about an hour chasing endurance horses and having a bit of a laugh.
“He is a very charismatic guy and he has a good understanding about horses generally and more importantly he has a real passion for racing around the world and in Australia.
“When we are with him you don’t really think about him as the ruler of Dubai, we think of him as a racing enthusiast and horsemen.
“We just had a great, fun afternoon to be honest.”
O’Shea will be based at Crown Lodge at Warwick Farm in Sydney, where he started his training career, but a decision on who will take over the role of foreman of the Melbourne stable, currently filled by Paul Snowden, is yet to be made.
Plumptre said earlier this month that he would like to see somebody already involved at Darley be promoted into the role and O’Shea said that remains a possibility but will not be rushing to make a decision.
“It will probably have to go through a process and there are a few people internally that I know Henry is keen to give some consideration to,” O’Shea said.
“It is a process of working through who I am comfortable with and seeing if there is anybody from outside the square that we would like to give consideration to as well.
“There is no urgency; Paul will run the stable there until the end of the autumn carnival in Melbourne and that will give us plenty of time to source who we might be suited to.”
A decision of who will take over the training of the majority of O’Shea horses, which includes Group 2 winner Savvy Nature, has not been made but he indicated that a straight swap with Peter and Paul Snowden was one alternative being discussed.