Darley-owned Blue Diamond winner Earthquake will look to emulate the Sydney and Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival success of their former stable mate Guelph this year targeting the fillies’ classics including the 2014 Thousand Guineas.
Peter Snowden’s daughter of Exceed And Excel Guelph was the headline filly of her juvenile season winning a quartet of Group 1s.
She kicked off in the autumn with the ATC Sires Produce – Champagne Stakes double and continued in the spring.
Third-up Guelph won the $400,000 Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick before continuing onto Melbourne 11 days later to score over the mile again this time in the $500,000 Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m).
Both the Flight Stakes on Epsom Handicap Day on October 4 and the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield Racecourse on October 11 are on the agenda then for Earthquake this spring.
Formerly prepared by Snowden and stabled with Guelph, Earthquake is another Exceed And Excel filly now prepared by John O’Shea.
Snowden trained her for her opening five career starts that produced four wins and over $1.55 million in prize money.
Best known for her Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) success in February where she overcame barrier 15 of 16, Earthquake was last seen running in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds.
On April 5 she had another wide gate (12 of 16) for the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) where she started short priced favourite.
Coming off a Reisling Stakes victory over the same track and distance but on a Good (3) rated course, in the Golden Slipper Earthquake ran on a Heavy (8) in her first look at a rain affected track.
She was far from disgraced then when three quarters of a length away second to Mossfun in the Slipper before heading to the paddock for a freshen-up.
After Snowden stepped down from position of head trainer for Darley Australia to go out on his own training venture with son Paul, O’Shea stepped in and has taken over a plethora of former Snowden-trained runners.
Earthquake is one and he’s excited about her spring Group 1 prospects having recently welcomed her back into work.
“She’s always been a big, strong filly and she has only got stronger since her spell,” O’Shea told The Daily Telegraph.
“Like most of our carnival horses, she is back at Crown Lodge now and only about a week or two away from starting fast work.
“It has been difficult learning about the 400 horses we have at Darley.
“But I have great staff at Darley that know the systems so well like Brad Widdup at Crown Lodge and that helps.
“I’m lucky to have the quality of people we do at the stables.’’
It seems the bookies also have Earthquake highly rated for the spring as she’s the $5.50 favourite in pre-nomination markets for the Thousand Guineas.
Along with the stable star, O’Shea is confident in the abilities of another two Darley-owned youngsters heading into next season including a younger half-brother to Guelph in Ghibellines.
Winner of the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) in March, the Shamardal colt was last seen running eighth in the Golden Slipper.
Ghibellines is the perfect contender for a $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) campaign, the three-year-old colts-and-geldings’ classic running on the same day as the Thousand Guineas this spring.
“Ghibellines has made dramatic improvement,” O’Shea said.
“I think he is going to develop into a good mile and mile-and-a-quarter (1600m-2000m) horse.
“I’m very happy with the way he is progressing.”
In the futures 2014 Caulfield Guineas odds they pay $21 to win, markets led by Gai Waterhouse’s JJ Atkins winner Almalad ($8.50).
The third talented up-and-comer O’Shea is looking forward to saddling up this spring is then Lonhro colt Sarajevo who has had just the one start when winning their debut over 1100m at Kensington on April 21.
“Sarajevo has had one start for one win and he was very impressive that day,” O’Shea said of the lesser known youngster.”
One horse that will be missing from O’Shea’s spring arsenal meanwhile is Complacent.
Winner of the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes before their second to Polanski in the Victoria Derby last spring, the Authorized colt injured their tendon pre-autumn and are still out recovering.
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