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Astern goes ahead at trials

Mike Hedge

Astern, Godolphin’s highest-rated Australian two-year-old of last season, indicated he was on target to maintain his standing as a three-year-old with an outstanding barrier trial at Randwick on Friday, August 19.

Astern (John O’Shea/James McDonald) produced a superlative effort to win his trial over 1050 metres, cruising home on the bridle to beat the older and more experienced Sons Of John by a neck.

“Last season he was one of the better colts around and he did everything right today, wasn’t knocked around at all, never pressured,” said trainer John O’Shea.

“That was his second trial and we couldn’t have asked much more from him.

“He’s in a good frame of mind, where we want him to be.”

The son of Medaglia d’Oro raced kindly on the fence behind the leading group until his rider James McDonald eased him around their heels and allowed him to stride. Once in the clear, Astern made up three lengths in the final 100m.

The trial performance of Furnaces (John O’Shea/James McDonald) suggested he too was capable of resuming where he left off last season.

Given a positive ride by McDonald, the four-year-old son of Exceed And Excel strode clear under minimal pressure to score a clear win in his 1050 metre trial.

“James said he feels different this time, nice and happy, very strong,” O’Shea said.

“He’s a horse with some class who has run well in very good company, so we’ll look forward to seeing him at the races.”

Among the other strong triallers were Archives (John O’Shea/James McDonald) whose effort to finish third offered plenty of promise for the coming Spring three-year-old features.

“Everything we wanted to see. Got away cleanly, took up a position and when he was asked to hold his place he did it well,” O’Shea said.

“He’s a big lump of a horse who looks like being at his best when he gets up to seven furlongs or a mile.”

In the same trial the lightly-raced Street Cry four-year-old Torpenhow also caught the eye with his effort to run on strongly from the back of the field.