McDonald Rates Astern Ahead of Run To The Rose Return

Ace Sydney-based jockey James McDonald has identified is mount in Saturday’s The Run To The Rose 2016 Astern as one of the horses to watch this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.


2016 Coolmore Stud Stakes-bound Astern kicks off his spring in Sydney’s Run To The Rose this weekend. Photo: Steve Hart.

Prepared by John O’Shea, the Godolphin-raced Medaglia D’Oro colt has had four starts to date for three wins and McDonald has been aboard for all but one of those runs.

After a win on debut back in December over 1000m at Randwick by two and a half-lengths with McDonald in the saddle, Hugh Bowman took over for Astern’s breakthrough stakes’ success.

First-up on February 20 at Rosehill he posted a half-length win as the odds-on favourite in the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m).

He then backed-up a month later but failed to make an impression when 11th to Capitalist in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m).

Astern atoned however on April 2 during Sydney’s ‘The Championships’ when posting his second Group win, this time in the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m).

The form coming out of last season’s Golden Slipper Stakes has been iffy with the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained winner Capitalist failing to make an impression as a three-year-old.

Capitalist ran fourth as the beaten favourite first-up on August 13 behind Star Turn, the Hawkes Racing-trained winner another Run To The Rose hope this weekend, in the Group 3 San Domenico Stakes (1100m).

He was the one-time top fancy for the $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens, but is now an unlikely acceptor for the September 10 classic.

A host of 2016 Golden Rose-bound youngsters meanwhile face off at the track this weekend in the $175,000 Group 2 Run To The Rose (1200m) including Astern.

He jumps from barrier three with McDonald aboard on the 58kg top weight in the set weights plus penalties clash.

While the kilos are against him, McDonald told Racenet he believes Astern is a genuine talent and can frank the Golden Slipper form over his spring campaign.

“He trialled well recently and has grown a lot,” McDonald said speaking of his Randwick trial win over 1050m on August 19.

“All indications are that he’s trained on from two to three – not many do it coming off a Golden Slipper preparation but he’s really come on.”

Astern is only chanced at $26 by in their all-in Golden Rose Stakes odds and may not step up in metres for the showdown.

Instead the stable have him earmarked as a genuine sprinter and he looks set for a trip to Melbourne later this campaign for a shot at the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on Victoria Derby Day at Flemington on October 29.

“He’ll be heading to races like the Roman Consul and Coolmore,” McDonald said.

The $300,000 Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) runs at Royal Randwick on Epsom Handicap Day, October 1, and the last Roman Consul – Coolmore Stud Stakes double winner was Brazen Beau (2014).

The year before Zoustar (2013) also completed the double for Chris Waller, Waller making it three Coolmore Stud Stakes wins on the trot last season when Japonisme won the race on the back of a Roman Consul Stakes third.

On Saturday Waller saddles-up two Run To The Rose hopes with Snitzel colt Nikitas – second to Capitalist in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic during the summer – and recent Eagle Farm winning Mossman colt Cellarman jumping from barriers seven and eight respectively.

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