Randwick horseman John O’Shea is confident the time is right for his last-start Eagle Farm winning filly Steps In Time to score a big Group 1 win when she lines up in this Saturday’s Tattersall’s Tiara.
Danehill Dancer three-year-old Steps In Time was one of 15 final acceptors for this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m), formerly known as the Winter Stakes, at Eagle Farm.
The lightly-raced galloper has proven to be a strong black-type competitor, Steps In Time having won two of her four career starts to date including a narrow victory over Havatryst in the Listed Daybreak Lover Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm last start on June 4.
Before her Daybreak success, Steps In Time showed plenty of promise when running a close second to Red Tracer in the Listed PJ Bell Stakes (1200m) at Canterbury first-up this prep on April 8 and then finishing third behind Pimpala Secret in the Listed Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) on April 30.
Now O’Shea will step her up to elite level company at just her fifth start, Steps In Time facing a field of imposing rivals in the Tattersall’s Tiara on Saturday.
“They’re seasoned campaigners at the top of their game, so they’re going to be difficult to beat,” O’Shea admitted.
Raging favourite is Peter Snowden’s Group 1 Doomben 10,000 champion Beaded, who is likely to start odds-on after coming up trumps with barrier three.
Still, O’Shea believes Steps In Time has earned her shot at the fillies and mares classic and she will take her spot in the race from barrier nine with Christian Reith booked for the ride.
“She trained on really nice as you’d expect (after the Daybreak),” O’Shea said.
“Probably the only thing against her is that she’s lightly-raced and probably lacks a bit of seasoning.”
Reith was aboard for the filly’s opening three race starts, Melbourne Cup-winning hoop Corey Brown having taken over for her Daybreak Lover win.
Brown, however, is engaged to ride race favourite Beaded in the Tattersall’s giving Reith the opportunity to reunite with Steps In Time.
Of the barrier nine of 15 draw, O’Shea is sure to be pleased having said earlier in the week a wider draw would be no issue for the consistent horse who overcame a double-digit barrier for her Daybreak victory.
“I think it’s better for her to draw out than in,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be concerned if she drew wide again because she can roll forward without any pressure.”
Another thing firmly in the filly’s favour is Steps In Time’s lightweight advantage as a three-year-old racing against older company.
As the Tattersall’s Tiara is a weight-for-age race, Steps In Time will carry 55.5kg while horses like Beaded will be racing at 57kg.
“The opposition that she meets on Saturday is far superior to what she met the other day, she’ll need every bit of that weight relief to be competitive on Saturday,” O’Shea said.
In the field of 15, there are three other three-year-old Tattersall’s Tiara hopefuls with the Hawkes-trained Redoute’s Choice filly Pontiana, Michael Moroney’s last-start Listed Gai Waterhouse Classic Stakes winner at Ipswich Born To Rock and dual Group 1 winning Yosei also on the 55.5kg minimum.
The Stuart Webb-trained Yosei, winner of the 2010 AJC Sires Produce Stakes and Thousand Guineas, looks well positioned and weighted to return to form as she drops back from 57kg last start to 55.5kg for Saturday.
Disappointing when running 14th behind fellow Tiara rival Hurtle Myrtle in the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m), jockey Michelle Payne believes that she can reunite with the Invincible Sprit filly for a win on Saturday – the addition of blinkers to the horse’s gear for the first time on Saturday a big help.
“She misses a start on most occasions, which we’re trying to rectify and we’ve put blinkers on Saturday, which is a first for her,” Payne said on Tuesday
“We worked in them this morning (Tuesday) and I was really happy with how she went in them.
“Hopefully she can jump and muster enough speed to get a position because you don’t want to be giving away a start in a race like that.
“Hopefully she can just park behind the speed and be saved for one last burst.”