O’Shea Apprehensive with ‘Perfect’ 2014 Winterbottom Stakes Barrier

By all accounts, four-year-old horse Sidestep has drawn the ‘perfect’ barrier in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Perth this Saturday, however trainer John O’Shea isn’t giving in to the hype just yet.

Sidestep is due to start the Winterbottom Stakes from the ideal barrier, but trainer John O'Shea remains apprehensive.

Sidestep is due to start the Winterbottom Stakes from the ideal barrier, but trainer John O’Shea remains apprehensive. Photo by Steve Hart.

The Godolphin-owned horse will jump from gate two in the $750,000 race with champion hoop Nash Rawiller in the saddle. The second barrier has seen four horses win since 1983, the last of which was Marasco in 2006, yet O’Shea remains apprehensive due to the horse wearing blinkers for the first time.

“I’ll tell you after the race if it’s an ideal gate or not,” O’Shea told Racing Network on Thursday.

“He’s blinkers first time, and sometimes they can dwell and miss the start and if he does that he could be in awful trouble from the gate.

“If he begins well then it should be a really good barrier.

“I’ll leave that up to Nash to negotiate.”

Sidestep is the market mover of the betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au, seeing his price shorten from $7 into $6 over the past 24 hours. He remains on the third line of betting behind race favourite Angelic Light ($3) and Moment Of Change ($4.40).

The horse had an excellent autumn campaign, which included a runner-up finish in the Listed Fireball Stakes (1100m) followed by back-to-back wins in the Listed Randwick Equine Centre Darby Munro (1200m) and Group 2 Sovereign Stakes (1200m).

After six months off the horse made his debut race under the care of John O’Shea in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) on November 8, his sole spring campaign run. He got back some way on the inside after jumping and tried hard with no room. It wasn’t a bad run but he never had a chance of winning either. He finished four lengths of the winner in eighth place.

O’Shea is confident he can fare better in the 2014 Winterbottom Stakes after making the journey to Perth well.

“The horse is in really good order, travelled over really well and he’s ready to run,” O’Shea explained.

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