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Trial Report - Randwick: Calliope and Astern on track for Spring return

Mike Hedge

A hint of Spring shone through the distinctly wintery track conditions as a selection of potential stars of Godolphin’s Australian team stepped up their new-season preparations in trials at Randwick on Tuesday, August 9.

Most prominent among the trial entries were Calliope and Astern, both Stakes-winning two-year-olds who gave every indication of being well on the way to repeating that form at three.

On a heavily rain-affected track, both were kept on the bridle in trials that allowed the pair to stretch legs and lungs under race conditions to the satisfaction of trainer John O’Shea.

Calliope (John O’Shea/Tim Clark) finished a tidy fifth in a trial that showed her manners behind the gates had improved and that she had retained her considerable natural ability finishing alongside Australia’s highest-rated racehorse, Winx.

“Calliope was very pleasing. We tried a few different things with her in the barrier and it worked,” O’Shea said.

“Her jockey was very complimentary. She pulled up very well and seemed to have a good day out and we look forward to seeing her at the races.”

In the same trial, the older colt Furnaces (John O’Shea/Tye Angland) finished a hard-held second and stablemate Vashka (John O’Shea/Kathy O’Hara) was third.

“Furnaces has come back well, he jumped into the bridle, travelled very nicely and was never off the bit and pulled up very well,” the trainer said.

O’Shea took a conservative approach to Astern’s first public appearance of the season and the winner of three of his four starts as a two-year-old cruised around on the wet track under a tight hold from Brenton Avdulla.

“It was encouraging to see him trial the way he did. He wanted to get a little bit anxious in the first part of the trial but he settle back in the field and travelled very kindly and finished off the trial very well,” he said.

Peacock (John O’Shea/Brenton Avdulla) was another three-year-old to show out, finishing third in his trial without being asked for a serious effort.

“Excellent trial – he did all the little things right, was a bit keen mid-trial, but closed of nicely under a hold,” O’Shea added.

The son of Lonhro won a maiden at Randwick in April at his third and most recent start, his trial performance suggesting he had grown in both stature and ability during is break from racing.

The Randwick trials also revealed a couple of likely Spring prospects in Serbia (John O’Shea/Brenton Avdulla), an unraced three-year-old filly by Lonhro, and Wirnpa (John O’Shea/Brenton Avdulla), a colt by Exceed And Excel.

Serbia cruised to the line to win her trial in the style of a talented filly, while Wirnpa showed good gate speed in his heat before being allowed to stride home under his own steam.

Also among the 19 Godolphin runners to trial were Arab Dawn and Vashka who both pleased O’Shea, along with the three-year-old Archives and the older sprinters Generalife and Haptic, the latter indicating he was close to his best with a strong second.