A win by White Sage in the Group 2 $175,000 NSW Thoroughbred Breeders Classic (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday would not surprise trainer John O’Shea who is ready to propel the grey mare into a Group 1 Autumn campaign.
But O’Shea was very surprised that bookmakers have posted the undefeated White Sage as the $2.70 favourite taking on the well-credentialed Catkins ($4.50), Streama ($5), Steps In Time ($5) and Driefontein ($8).
“Streama and Catkins are coming out of extremely successful Spring Carnivals. I would think I’d be on the fourth line of betting because I’d think Streama, Catkins and Steps In Time should be in front of her.”
White Sage is facing her toughest test to date after winning all her five starts but O’Shea is certain she will perform well coming up against Guy Walter’s three time Group 1 winner Streama and Chris Waller’s improving mare Catkins who was Group 1 placed in the Spring.
“I don’t need to make any assessment of how good she is because her record says it,” O’Shea told the Sportsman.
“What she has achieved is very good and I would think she is a genuine lightweight chance in the Coolmore.”
“She has a tremendous will to win, she beat the boys at open company in her second preparation and there is a lot to say she is a talented mare.”
“But you can’t compare her form to Streama or Catkins. Steps In Time is a much better horse in the Autumn than the Spring and has won the race the last two seasons.”
O’Shea tested White Sage at Listed level at her fifth race start and she delivered with a comfortable two lengths win in the Listed $100,000 Blackwoods Stanley Dewalt Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on November 30 before he sent her out to prepare for the Autumn Carnival.
The Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) for the mares at Rosehill on March 22 is high on the Autumn program with a tilt at the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 12 also being considered.
Streama was able to win her third Group 1 last Spring when she took out the Group 1 $350,000 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick before finishing a close second to Boban in the Group 1 $500,000 The Star Epsom (1600m) at Randwick on October 5.
While Catkins was beaten a lip by stablemate Red Tracer at her first attempt at Group 1 level in the $500,000 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on November 2.
Also high up in the market order is Steps In Time who didn’t perform at her best in the Spring but is the winner of Breeders Classic the last two years when under the care of O’Shea but is now prepared by Warwick Farm trained Joe Pride.
And trainer Gai Waterhouse has given Driefontein a freshen up since the mare won the $164,000 R.M. Williams Magic Millions Fillies & Mares Handicap (1300m) at the Gold Coast on January 11.