Local Sydney horseman John O’Shea, fresh off a big Group 1 upset with Foxwedge in the William Reid Stakes, heads to Rosehill Guineas Day on Saturday confident his smart filly Elite Falls will be a competitive rival in the 2012 Challenge Stakes.
Betting markets at bookmaker.com.au for the $175,000 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1100m) are clearly led by odds-on favourite Rain Affair paying $1.85 to beat their six rivals home in Rosehill Race 4 at 2:10pm (NSW time).
Joe Pride’s dual Group 2 winner certainly has the record (12-10-1-0) and form to back their short price, but did they lose confidence when beaten into sixth by Hay List in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington last start?
A number of rival trainers are saying yes, including O’Shea who prepares $8 third favourite in the Challenge Stakes markets at bookmaker.com.au Elite Falls.
The More Than Ready filly has won two of her 11 starts to date but hasn’t been seen in the winners’ stall since her Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m) win at Rosehill over 12 months ago.
One of the spruik two-year-olds from last season Elite Falls went on to run third to superstar colt Sepoy, who makes their international debut in Dubai this weekend, in last year’s prestigious Golden Slipper.
She was also far from disgraced when finishing less than two lengths away seventh to Sepoy’s fellow star stablemate Helmet in the Group 1 Inglis Sires Produce Stakes 91400m) last autumn.
After a disappointing spring where she failed to finish better than fifth in her three Group assignments, Elite Falls resumed at Caulfield on Blue Diamond Day in February and looked back to her best when coming within a short head of Woorim to run second in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
Getting back to Rosehill for the Challenge Stakes on Saturday O’Shea knows Elite Falls faces a strong field, the other main danger being the super-consistent Bel Sprinter ($3.20), but believes she has what it takes to match the older boys here.
“She is going great,” he said.
“She has made goo improvement since the Oakleigh Plate.”
The only thing he is concerned about is her inside draw, Elite Falls to be ridden by Jimmy Cassidy from the barrier one.
“It is an awkward draw for her in one,” O’Shea admitted.
“She will get back, I didn’t think there was a lot of speed in the race, Rain Affair won’t get pressured.”
Other trainers confident their Challenge Stakes betting outsiders stand a better chance than their odds suggest are David Payne and Clarry Conners.
Last seen finishing three lengths away 11th in the Oakleigh Plate, One Cool Cat five-year-old Winter King should be much fitter after their two resuming runs, which also included a first-up fourth to Rain Affair in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill.
“He has just taken a couple of runs to get right,” Payne said.
“He is at his top now.”
Conners, meanwhile, opted to run his 2012 The Galaxy-bound filly Satin Shoes ($26 bookmaker.com.au) in this race instead of the $125,000 Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) against the fillies and mares and the end of the day and remains confident in his decision.
“It is a good horses’ race and she is a good horse,” Conners said of the Challenge Stakes.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for our exclusive Challenge Stakes betting tips to be published shortly.
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