On face value four lengths is a sizeable margin to make up but trainer John O’Shea hasn’t given up on emerging three-year-old Benaud bridging the cap on compatriots Head Of State and Profondo in Saturday’s Group 1 feature at Randwick.
Throwing a horse into a race like the $1m Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at its third start isn't normal practice for O'Shea but it's an insight into his opinion of the grey as a horse of the future.
A number of variables have changed for Saturday's race, after he ran third in the Gloaming at Rosehill, and they could have a bearing on how much ground Benaud can make up on the Gloaming quinella.
"The complexion of the race is different,'' O'Shea said.
"We're at Randwick, we're at 10 furlongs, we've got a nice draw. But it's not lost on us how far he was beaten the other day.
"The other horses have a few decisions to make, if they go back it'll be very interesting. It's pretty cut and dried what will happen with him and where he'll be in the run."
Benaud, $11 with TAB on Friday, won on debut over at Nowra a month ago, that was largely due to the timing of the race and where the horse was in his preparation but going straight into the Group 3 Gloaming at his second start is still unusual.
O'Shea can't recall starting such an inexperienced three-year-old in a Group 1 race previously but at Rosehill he showed he's up to it.
"We've always had a big opinion of him, it's been a matter of getting the right opportunity to get him racing,'' he said.
The Randwick trainer has a handy group of horses racing on Saturday and he has high hopes for both Rocha Clock and Minhaaj in the Group 3 $200,000 The Nivision (1200m).
While he rates Minhaaj, formerly trained by Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes, as the better suited of the two mares he is aiming Rocha Clock at the $2m The Invitation (1400m) in two weeks so is out to make a bit of a statement with her.
"If you work through the lead ups to The Invitation, the Nivision has to be a primary lead up,'' he said.
"Rocha Clock has a great record at Randwick second-up over 1400m so there is a bit of merit in why we are running here.
"(Barrier one) is probably not the most ideal draw for her but we're optimistic she will give a good account of herself."
Three mares – Entriviere, Icebath and Vangelic - have already received invitations into the new fillies and mares feature.
Minhaaj won three of her nine starts for her previous trainers and after two handy trial efforts behind Classique Legend in the past month O'Shea said she's ready to fire first-up.
"She looks a really nice little mare, she'd done a great job prior to coming to us,'' he said.
"That 1200m stakes grade for mares is perfect."
Sisters All Saints' Eve and All Hallows Eve are engaged in the Group 3 $160,000 Bentley Angst Stakes (1600m) and are expected by their trainer to produce their best runs this time in.
The elder All Saint's Eve is back to mares company after unplaced runs in the Tramway and Shannon Stakes while four-year-old All Hallows' Eve also took on the boys last start finishing seventh behind Ellsberg at Rosehill.
"They've been set for the latter part of the season and I thought both mares gave an indication at their previous engagement they are heading in the right direction,'' O'Shea said.
"From the draw Saints, a mile at Randwick, I think she is pretty well placed. Hallows gets the blinkers and an in-form jockey but it doesn't look to be a race of a lot of speed. So it'll be interesting to see how it maps."
Promising three-year-old Cotehele is back into stakes company after an easy first-up win at Goulburn and O'Shea describes the Group 2 $250,000 Heineken Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) as a fork in the road.
He could be aimed at the $1m Bondi Stakes (1600m) in two weeks or head to Flemington for the Carbine Club Stakes over the same distance.
Cotehele does face a fierce test from the in-form Coastwatch, coming off a Golden Rose third placing, but he faces it in the right frame of mind and in better conditions than his previous second-up effort.
"I think our little bloke is a good, tough, conveyance,'' O'Shea said.
"Goulburn was about getting back into the gamed and getting started. He goes to the 1500m in really good form.
"His performances are relevant in the sense he had a disappointing performance second-up on wet ground then he bounced back from a wide draw in the (Queensland) Sires' Produce with strong form around Tiger Of Malay."
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