Godolphin’s number one stable rider James McDonald will stick with classy colt Astern in the Group 2 $175,000 MTA Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
McDonald had the pick of four John O’Shea trained three year olds set to resume in the Run To The Rose but decided to stay with the Medaglia D’Oro colt with whom he has had previous success.
“He has come back a nice horse and he has got stronger and mentally stronger as well and he was a bit fragile last campaign,” McDonald told The Daily Telegraph.
“It was a tough decision (on which horse to ride) but I get to choose my ride in the Golden Rose anyway and this is only the semi-final.”
McDonald will get a good idea who he is going to ride in the Group 1 $1m Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill with Astern and stablemates and Run To The Rose rivals Telperion and Impending also heading to the Group 1 for the three year olds in a fortnight.
McDonald has ridden Astern in three of his four starts for two wins in a 1000m Randwick two year old Plate in December and when he dead heated with the Gai Waterhouse trained El Divino in the Group 3 $200,000 Widden Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) at Randwick on April 2.
The premiership winning jockey was also aboard the colt when he was a well beaten eleventh to Capitalist in the Group 1 $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on March 19 while Hugh Bowman steered him to victory in the Group 2 $250,000 UVEX Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on February 20.
Astern has drawn barrier three in the twelve horse Run To The Rose field and O’Shea said that should suit him ideally.
“The barrier he’s drawn is ideal to help him race the way we want him to, to relax and give himself every chance to finish off,” O’Shea said.
“This whole preparation, all his work at home and his trials have been designed around getting him to switch off and to his credit he’s been doing what he’s been asked to do.”
“James (McDonald) said he’s come back a proper horse, strong, more mature, and he’s displayed that in his work.”
Tessera with Katy O’Hara to ride and Impending with Brenton Avdulla in the saddle have also drawn well at four and six while Telperion with Jason Collett aboard has drawn one from the outside at gate eleven.
Astern has been marked as a $7 chance at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Run To The Rose while stablemate Impending is on the second line of betting at $4.40 behind the Team Hawkes trained Star Turn who is the ruling favourite at $3.80.
Early market order for The Run To The Rose at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.80 Star Turn, $4.40 Impending, $5 Mediterranean, $6.50 El Divino, $7 Astern, $13 Telperion, $14 Good Standing, $51 Tessera, Manolo Blahniq, Nikitas, $61 Cellarman, $201 Gadfly.