Talented Melbourne hoop Chad Schofield is set to partner Earthquake when she returns to racing in the 2015 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield on February 28.
Earthquake recorded a narrow victory in a barrier trial over 800 metres at Cranbourne on January 29 and O’Shea confirmed that the Exceed And Excel filly will have one more trial at the same venue next Monday before she takes on older horses for the first time in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
O’Shea told Sky Racing HQ that he is expecting Earthquake to be allocated 50 kilograms for the Oakleigh Plate and he believes that with that weight the filly is a good chance of recording her second victory at the highest level of racing.
“I thought her first trial was excellent and she lines up in the Oakleigh Plate first-up in a couple of weeks on Blue Diamond Day,” O’Shea said.
“We are very, very happy with her and she has had a lovely smooth preparation.
“Chad is on notice that he will probably have to make 50 kilos for the Oakleigh Plate and I think it is a nice weight for a horse of her profile and her record.”
Earthquake won the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) and finished second in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) as a two-year-old, but she was unable to replicate that sort of form during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
The daughter of Exceed And Excel was beaten as a short priced favourite on a heavy track in the Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on September 6, but had no excuses when third in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) at the same venue a fortnight later.
Earthquake returned to winning form in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on October 11 and she was sent to the spelling paddock after she finished a credible eighth in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).
Chad Schofield has never previously ridden Earthquake, but he has made a habit of winning Group 1 races when getting on board horses for the first time and he took out the out the 2013 Cox Plate with Shamus Award, 2014 Newmarket Handicap with Lankan Rupee, the 2014 Champagne Stakes with Go Indy Go and the 2014 Queensland Derby with Sonntag.
Godolphin are chasing their first win in the Oakleigh Plate after finishing third with Knoydart in 2014 and missing the placings with Kuroshio (2014) and Sepoy (2012).