A couple of nice recent Sydney trials from the John O’Shea-trained Vashka have jockey James McDonald looking forward to the horse’s first-up run in the 2016 Show County Quality this weekend in Sydney.
McDonald returns to racing down under after time riding in the UK for the Godolphin stable and has five rides on the Warwick Stakes Day card at Royal Randwick this weekend.
Four of those are across the meeting’s Group races including aboard Exceed And Excel gelding Vashka in Race 6 – the $125,000 Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m).
The handicap sprint attracted a final field of nine runners and six-year-old Vashka is the current $4.40 co-favourite in Show County Quality betting at Ladbrokes.com.au with the rails-drawn Randwick Guineas winner Le Romain.
Drawn in barrier five, McDonald is back in the saddle of the still lightly-raced sprinter who has his 17th career run in the Group 3.
To date Vashka has enjoyed eight wins, but his three previous Randwick runs have produced just the one third place finish.
That was in last year’s edition of the Show County Quality when Tommy Berry guided him to the narrow defeat behind Decision Time and Boss Lane with only a quarter-length separating the trifecta.
Berry also gets a second shot at the Show County Quality this year partnering the Hawkes Racing-trained eight-year-old Messene ($15) from barrier eight.
Since then Vashka has enjoyed two victories with Sam Clipperton aboard for the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) victory at Rosehill last September before McDonald’s winning ride in the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) on Caulfield Cup Day.
The galloper missed the autumn and hasn’t raced since last October, but has twice trialled nicely this winter in Sydney.
His first official hit-out on July 25 was over 807m on a Heavy Warwick Farm track for a win over Majaska and Rebel Dane.
Then on august 9 at Randwick Kathy O’Hara rode him for a third behind Boss Lane who also runs in the Show County Quality again this year paying $7 in the latest markets to improve on his second from 12 months ago.
“Vashka has been trialling good and the team have him in great shape for Saturday,” McDonald told Racing Victoria this week.
The other biggest dangers in the race according to the Show County Quality odds are Team Snowden’s Missile Stakes winning mare Tycoon Tara ($5) and early market mover Mount Nebo ($6.50).
Wyong horseman Allan Denham saddles-up Dubawi seven-year-old Mount Nebo, the gelding coming off the close third in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) on a Heavy (10) Randwick track a fortnight ago.
Check out the full weekend racing odds and offers and get behind Vashka on Saturday online now at Ladbrokes.com.au where first-time depositing players (excluding NSW) are eligible for up to $500 in bonuses with use of the code BETBONUS (and other T&Cs).