3 minute read
Last year’s Ingham runner-up Lion’s Roar has been backed to go one better.
After a slew of outside barrier draws in big races, John O'Shea is celebrating a welcome change of fortune for his trio of runners in the $2 million The Ingham.
Lion's Roar jumped from barrier 20 when second to Spangler in the Little Dance (1600m), Kirwin's Lane from gate 12 of 13 when fourth to Unspoken in the Filante Handicap (1600m), while former Kiwi Dark Destroyer came from 12 of 13 when midfield in The Hunter (1300m).
"We can't believe it," O'Shea said.
"That's why they were so late getting the barriers out (on Wednesday) because they were trying to work out how to get us a little bit closer."
Jokes aside, O'Shea is confident all three are capable of bobbing up.
Two of them, Kirwin's Lane and Lion's Roar, finished one-two in the corresponding race last year and the latter has been an early firmer from $13 into $8.50.
A Group 1 winner of the Randwick Guineas at three, Lion's Roar carried 56kg in The Ingham (1600m) 12 months ago after being unplaced in two lead-up runs.
He drops to 53.5kg on Saturday and arrives off a slashing Melbourne Cup Day second.
"I think (his form) is significantly better and he is weighted significantly better," O'Shea said when comparing Lion's Roar's credentials.
"I thought to myself, maybe it's a harder race, but they beat home Atishu last year, so the race last year had more merit to it than I first thought.
"He looks to map beautifully in a fast-run race, and we couldn't be happier with him."
In contrast, Kirwin's Lane was in a rich vein of form last spring, winning the Ladies' Day Cup at Hawkesbury and finishing third in the Festival Stakes prior to taking out Sydney's summer carnival centrepiece.
This time around, his efforts have been sound without placing, and he is six weeks between runs after being scratched from The Gong due to a wide gate.
However, the gelding has been kept up to the mark with two barrier trials and O'Shea is adamant Saturday's low draw is key.
"He's a horse that needs soft draws and he gets that Saturday," O'Shea said.
"He gets to follow Attractable, which will be a really good horse to follow, and he's in good form.
"His run the other day, it was a pretty leaderish track, and I thought he ran very well. He came to the centre, which doesn't suit him, whereas this week he gets to drop down on the rail and get a suck up into the race, which is a much better scenario for him."
Dark Destroyer will be having just his second start for O'Shea and looks a handy pick-up for the stable having shown his quality as a winter three-year-old when taking out the 2022 Rough Habit Plate at Eagle Farm and finishing fourth in that year's Queensland Derby.
He trained on to claim a Group 1 in New Zealand last spring and O'Shea said he had come on in leaps and bounds since The Hunter.
"He was good first-up in an unsuitable race and he has made a massive step forward this week," O'Shea said.
"Albeit his best form is on rain-affected ground, I still think that he's a quality animal that is going to get a good run in the race and we couldn't be happier with him at home."
A full field of 20 will contest The Ingham, including first emergency Williamsburg who enters the fray following the scratching of Excellent Proposal on Thursday.