John O’Shea’s Golden Rose winner from the spring Exosphere looks spot-on for a 2016 TJ Smith Stakes bid next month after a smart trial win at Randwick on Friday morning.
The Godolphin-raced son of Lonhro has won five of his nine starts to date and will be shooting for his sixth win on April 2 on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’ at Royal Randwick in the $2.5 million Group 1 Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
Last start the smart colt was far from disgraced resuming with a fourth when beaten only 1.7 lengths by Chautauqua down the Flemington straight on February 20 in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m).
He will return to Sydney second-up for the first time since his Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) win last October, which came before his fourth as the beaten odds-on favourite behind Japonisme in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Sharpening up ahead of his TJ Smith Stakes assignment, Exosphere contested a 1050m heat on a Heavy (8) track on Friday with James McDonald in the saddle.
Handling the rain-affected course without a worry he flew home for a two and a quarter-length win over Gai Waterhouse’s four-year-old Valentia in a time of 1:04.40, pleasing O’Shea who confirmed the TJ Smith Stakes target next-up.
“He did what I expected him to do this morning,” O’Shea told Racing NSW.
“We’ll go to the TJ Smith now.”
McDonald was also full of post-trial praise for the youngster who was back to his “old self”.
“[Exosphere was] back to his best without doubt,” McDonald said.
“He went through his paces beautifully, he was stunning.
“He’s come on a lot since his last run.
“He was his old self today.”
No horse has backed straight up from a Lightning Stakes run to win the TJ Smith Stakes in the race’s history, but Flemington has produced the past two winners of the Sydney classic with Lankan Rupee (2014) and Chautauqua (2015) coming off first and second placings respectively in the Newmarket Handicap.
The Team Hawkes-trained five-year-old Chautauqua currently pays $3.80 through Ladbrokes.com.au as the early favourite to successfully defend in TJ Smith Stakes title this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
After the $3.99 million earner’s Lightning Stakes success he ran third to upset winner The Quarterback, a $26 TJ Smith Stakes chance, in a blanket finish in the Newmarket on March 12.
Exosphere meanwhile occupies the second line of all-in TJ Smith Stakes betting at $4 on the back of his smart trial.
If successful he’ll become the first three-year-old TJ Smith Stakes winner since the filly Melito (2010) and the first male three-year-old to take it out since Century Kid (2001).
To check out the full TJ Smith Stakes 2016 betting futures head to Ladbrokes.com.au now – home of Odds Boost!