Trainer John O’Shea is hoping to get Astern back on track for the Group 1 $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on March 19 after he was forced to scratch him from his assignment at Randwick today.
Astern was due to line up in the Group 2 $300,000 UNSW Todman Stakes (1200m) but after registering a slightly elevated white cell count during the week, O’Shea was forced to scratch the Medaglia D’Oro colt.
Godophin’s head trainer reported to NSW Racing Stewards that Astern had not missed any work and that he is likely to barrier at Warwick Farm next Thursday to confirm his fitness for the Golden Slipper.
Astern was looking for a hat trick of wins after being undefeated at his only two starts following a victory in a 1000m two year old Plate at Randwick on December 5 followed by a tradesman like all the way win in the Group 2 $250,000 UVEX Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill a fortnight ago.
“It was very comforting to see him do it at both ends last start,” O’Shea said od 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.”
The O’Shea stable had regarded Astern as their leading Golden Slipper hope and another good performance in the Todman Stakes would have confirmed that.
The stable will still have a runner, Tessera, in the Todman Stakes which has been reduced to a field of four with the Peter and Paul Snowden trained Defcon also coming out.
Tessera will also be looking to maintain his unbeaten record after wins in an 1100m two year old plate at Randwick on January 16 and in the Group 3 $150,000 Canonbury Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on January 30.
“He (Tessera) put the writing on the wall in his first start and ran right up to it last time out,” O’Shea said.
“He’s drawn the inside on Saturday which gives him every chance. I’m expecting him to run right up to the form he’s shown so far.”
The Snowdens will send Defcon to Canberra on Sunday to contest the Group 3 $275,000 Mercedes-Benz Canberra Black Opal Stakes (1200m), but they will still saddle up their brilliant colt Capitalist in the Todman Stakes.
Capitalist is the raging hot $1.30 favourite as he chases his fourth win from four starts and will be having his first run back since easily winning the $2m Magic Millions 2yo Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast on January 9.
Todman Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.30 Capitalist, $4 Weatherly, $10 Tessera, $21 Kiss And Make Up.