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John O’Shea’s star colt Exosphere is set to return to racing this weekend at Flemington Racecourse in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes 2016 this weekend in Melbourne with Sydney hoop James McDonald securing the ride.
A winner of five of his eight career starts to date including the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill last September, the $1 million earning son of Lonhro chases another elite level win when taking on the older sprinters in Saturday’s $750,000 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m).
The weight-for-age classic will be Exosphere’s second look at the Flemington straight after his credible fourth as the beaten odds-on favourite behind the Chris Waller-trained Japonisme in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) last November.
Exosphere has trialled twice leading up to his return with back-to-back seconds over 800m in Warwick Farm hit-outs this summer, the latest on February 8 when a neck off Terravista.
McDonald has ridden the horse five times under race conditions, including his Golden Rose win in the spring, and for his two most recent trials.
Fellow hoop Craig Williams was originally on standby to ride Exosphere first-up this weekend after McDonald indicated he would stay in Sydney to partner Godolphin’s 2016 Golden Slipper-bound colt Astern.
He has been so taken with the recent trial performances of Exosphere however that he will make the trip to Victoria for the Black Caviar Lightning ride trainer O’Shea confirmed to Racing Victoria.
“Initially Craig was going to ride him and James was going to stay home here, because Astern’s having his first run this prep,” O’Shea explained.
“James was going to stay and ride him, but he wants to ride the big horse, so that’s no problem.
“He seems to think he’s going a bit better (this time in), but we’ll see on race day.”
Exosphere gallops on Monday morning at Godolphin’s Osborne Park ahead of his float trip from Sydney to Melbourne on Tuesday morning to tune him up for his Group 1 return.
Williams will still be shooting for a maiden Lightning Stakes win this weekend having picked up the ride on Waller’s Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) winner Delectation.
In place of Astern in Sydney this weekend meanwhile will be Hugh Bowman.
Also prepared by O’Shea, the Medaglia D’Oro colt won over 1000m by two and a half lengths on debut at Randwick on December 5 with McDonald in the saddle.
Astern runs at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday in the $250,000 Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) on way to the world’s richest race for two-year-olds back at the track on March 19.
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