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John O’Shea knows what it takes to win an Epsom Handicap and is giving his two contenders, Lightinthenite and Gangster’s Choice a chance of making it two wins for the Randwick trainer in the famous Group 1 ‘Mile’ at Randwick tomorrow.

Gangster's Choice

Gangster's Choice is one of two runners for John O'Shea in the Epsom Handicap. Photo by: Steve Hart

Racing To Win took out the 2006 Epsom as an odds on favourite but O’Shea is not perturbed that Lightinthenite and Gangster’s Choice will be going into the Group 1 $500,000 The Star Epsom Handicap (1600m) not at the top end of the market.

“I’m not turning up there to make up the numbers,” O’Shea said.

“Both horses when they came into the stable at the start of their preparations, we had the intention to run them and have them run well in the Epsom.”

“I prefer that,” O’Shea said of the juicy odds that are on offer for his Epsom hopefuls.

Lightinthenite is a $14 chance and is going into the Epsom second up after finishing runner-up to Rolling Pin in the Group 3 $150,000 Patinack Farm Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle on September 19.

While $61 chance Gangster’s Choice is stepping up from restricted class after running second to Jacquinot Bay in a Benchmark 85 Handicap over 1600m at Randwick on September 22.

“I think they are progressive young horses that sometimes can get under the guard and they are hard to measure because they are on upward spirals,” O’Shea said.

“In 12 months time you might reflect back on hopefully one or both of the horses and say, ‘how did they start 20/1 in an Epsom’, because they might end up pretty talented, well-performed horses.”

“In an attempt to try to beat the handicapper a little bit you sort of want to run them when they are down in the weights.”

Veteran jockey Jim Cassidy is confident he will pass a medical examination and be cleared to ride Lightinthenite after injuring his ankle when his mount Nissile jammed his leg up against the side of the barriers at the start of race 5 at Canterbury on Wednesday.

“I’ll be right for Saturday, I’ve got to be,” Cassidy said as he limped off the course.

“My whole foot got twisted as I was coming out of the barriers. But I’ll be right.”

The Melbourne Cup winning jockey has only recently returned to riding after a winter break and has continued to show all his skill with several Group wins over the Sydney Spring Carnival.

“Jimmy’s in stellar form. We’ve forged a really good relationship recently,” O’Shea said.

Former New Zealander jockey Jason Collet will be aboard Gangster’s Choice and is looking forward to riding on Super Saturday after graduating from an apprentice to the senior riding ranks.

Collet rode his first winner as a senior jockey at Canterbury last Wednesday for leading trainer Chris Waller and is on a high waiting to jump aboard Gangster’s Choice in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap.

“I got told last week I could be on him if he makes the field and I was over the moon when it was confirmed,” Collett said.

“I’ve got five rides at the meeting which is pretty good for one of the biggest days in Sydney racing.

“I’ve come close at home a couple of times in Group Ones. I’ve had a couple of placings.

“But to win one of these here would be massive.”

The Gai Waterhouse trained Fat Al heads the Epsom betting at $4.80 just ahead of track specialist Shoot Out at $5.50 with stablemate Rangirangdoo and Ambidexter at $7.50 and last year’s winner Secret Admirer at $8.50.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.


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