Three year old Sidestep looms as potentially the first Group 1 winner for John O’Shea at his new roll as Darley’s new number one trainer in Saturday’s Group 1 $400,000 Bundaberg Distilling Co. BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben on Saturday.
O’Shea took over the reins at Darley on Sunday morning replacing Peter Snowden who has joined forces with his son Paul to train in partnership out of Randwick.
Sidestep, along with Sessions in the Group 1 $500,000 The Tapestry Wines Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on Saturday, will be O’Shea’s first Group 1 runners wearing the Darley colours, maroon, white sleeves, maroon cap with white star.
Sidestep has marked himself as one of the top chances in the BTC Cup with wins at his last two starts in the Listed $125,000 Randwick Equine Centre Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on March 29 and the Group 2 $500,000 Arrowfield Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 19, but O’Shea said that his new job won’t be judged harshly if he gets beat on Saturday.
“I don’t think I’m going to be judged by my first week, I will be judged over a long period of time,’’ O’Shea told The Daily Telegraph.
“If we were to win a Group 1, that’s great, but I won’t be judged on this week.’’
Sessions has been out of the winner’s stall since September last year but a dry track at Morphettville on Saturday will certainly enhance his changes.
Sessions last scored in the Group 2 $200,000 Bowermans Office Furniture Shorts (1100m) at Randwick last Spring but was Group 1 placed when third to Buffering in the $1m Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
The Lonhro stallion was well beaten on a heavy 9 at his last start when tenth to Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 12.
O’Shea has kept a keen eye on Sessions prior to him taking over at Darley and has been happy with his progress this preparation.
“He’s probably taken a few runs to come right. I’ve kept an eye on him from afar and I thought his run the other day topped him off,” O’Shea said.
“He hasn’t had any luck in the preparation in that he’s drawn wide barriers and struck wet tracks. I don’t think there’s been anything wrong with the way he’s been going and I think that was evidenced by the way he went last Friday morning.”
“He worked really well.”
Sidestep has been marked as equal favourite with local hero Buffering at $3.20 for the BTC Cup while Sessions has been marked an $11 chance behind $5.50 favourite Sistine Demon in the Goodwood.