Trainer John O’Shea has his Group 1 winning mare Sea Siren primed to return to form in the Group 1 $400,000 Bundaberg Distilling Co. BTC Cup (1200m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Jockey Jim Cassidy will be able to give Sea Siren the perfect run from barrier three in the eleven horse field and the combination are looking to score back to back wins in the BTC Cup after beating Scenic Blast and Beaded during last year’s Brisbane Winter Carnival.
But after scoring another two Group 1 wins, the $650,000 Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben in the winter and the $500,000 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in the Spring, Sea Siren has been out of the winning list.
A spell followed an unsuccessful trip to Hong Kong where the Fastnet Rock mare finished worst than midfield in the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin in December and she has been struggling to find her best form since.
With two runs and a barrier trial under her belt this campaign O’Shea is expecting Sea Siren to be very competitive this Saturday.
“This Saturday is the first race where she’s suited and I’m happy with how she is leading into it,” O’Shea said.
“The difference between this year and last year is that the races she could win last year were early in her preparation and that wasn’t the case this year.”
“The problem with going overseas is that it takes so long to get them back and it’s really taken a lot of work to get her fit this time,” O’Shea added.
Another winter carnival win in the BTC Cup will edge Cassidy closer to one hundred Group 1 victories with the headline jockey taking his tally to ninety-seven with wins on Pierro and Foreteller during the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
And Cassidy narrowly missed out on win number ninety-eight when his mount Fuerza was beaten a nose by Guelph in the Group 1 $400,000 Moet & Chandon 150th Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on April 27.
“I’m hoping number eighty-nine can happen this weekend. That would be nice,” Cassidy said.
“Sea Siren was ridden out of her comfort zone in The Galaxy, she ran behind Black Caviar and had a trial since.
“It’s probably taken her a bit longer to get fitter and stronger this time in. She’s a big gross mare.
“She was travelling well when she won this race last year, obviously she was younger and right on top of her game, but this year she’s not too far off.”
The Robert Heathcote trained Buffering is all the rage to score his maiden Group 1 win in the BTC Cup after being placed on seven occasions at that level and has been posted the $2.80 favourite after coming up with gate seven.
Sea Siren is the second pick at $4 just in front of local three year old Better Than Ready at $4.50 and Rain Affair at $5 with Your Song marked as a $8.50 chance.
The Kelly Schweida trained Better Than Ready will get back in the field from gate eight and will be suited by the hot pace while Sydney speedster Rain Affair will have no trouble taking up his usual front running roll from gate two.
Damian Browne on Buffering will have to decide in the first 200m if he is to take on Rain Affair for the top spot or slide over behind him from his gate seven.