Free and easy: O’Shea unearths Derby contender
LIVE And Free stamped himself as a Queensland Derby prospect with a dominant win at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday for trainer John O'Shea.
O'Shea said a punting friend of his saw the Savabeel three-year-old run second in a three-horse race over 1400m at Taranaki, New Zealand, last November, but thought his sectionals that day read like a good horse.
O'Shea quickly acquired him and, at his fifth start for the stable, he produced his best over 1800m with Rachel King on board to beat favourite Primitivo by 3½ lengths, with Almighty Crown in third.
King got him into the box seat and at the 300m hadn't moved on him as the others were struggling.
"He's just a stayer and it was a beautiful ride by Rachel," O'Shea said.
"We just needed to get him out to the right trip. He probably went a little bit better today than anticipated and the race fell his way.
"He's by a champion New Zealand stayer and when you get to the big trips, pedigree matters. We're very optimistic about him because he's got a good turn of foot, too."
O'Shea will start Live And Free at Randwick in three weeks and if he runs well he'll book his ticket to Brisbane.
"At Doomben you need to take a spot and he takes a spot, so you never know," O'Shea said.
King couldn't hold Live And Free back anymore in the straight and said it felt really good when she let him loose.
"He's an impressive little horse with more to come," she said. "He's still not fully sure what he's doing. He didn't really want to hit the front that early but he took me there and kicked away really well and he's going to be better over further."
King said punters could expect an even better performance next start.
"I only gave him a little slap to make sure he was going straight. We didn't get to the bottom of him today," she said.
"I would have loved something to take me to the furlong but he was just going too well for them."
Tye Angland was on Primitivo and he didn't offer any excuses for the loss.
"We had the run to win but just found a better one on the day. The horse ran well, though," he said.
Epidemic on the up
JAMES Cummings was not ruling out making it a family affair up in Brisbane this winter after Impending's little sister Epidemic scored a narrow but determined win in the ATC Flexi 6 Membership (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens.
The daughter of Lonhro and dual Group 1 winner Mnemosyne came from last in the run to pick off the Chris Waller trained mare O'Racheal ($5.50) right on the wire.
Pre-post favourite Zonk ($3.10) was given every opportunity by James Innes Jr but finished thee quarters of a length away third.
Cummings clearly has a knack with the family, having won the Group 2 Victory Stakes in Brisbane with Epidemic's older bother, the stud-bound Impending.
"Epidemic had a great prep last time in with a couple of wins under her belt now and I think she can really spring board on from this,'' Cummings said.
"She has got black type written all over her.
"We will just find the right race. She is an exciting filly to be going forward with and I dare say she should train on nice as a four-year-old.''
Epidemic was giving away a start to her older rivals in the early stages but jockey Brenton Avdulla started to plot a course for the filly on the point of the bend, shouldering into the clear and dashing down the middle of the track to score.
"Sometimes when you are 'on' you get those photos and when you're 'off' you miss them,'' Avdulla said.
"We had a perfect run, she travelled really comfortable and when we got to the back of the second horse on the corner, I thought I was going to get there and then halfway up the straight I wasn't sure but to her credit she knocked down late.
"She is still improving and I think she is on the up, for sure.
"It's been a quietish sort of month in town for me but it was good to get the ball rolling obviously last week at Hawkesbury and again today.''
Apprentice jockey Lee Magorrian summed up the second-placed O'Racheal's day succinctly and accurately.
"She ran good fresh up, she was in front before and after the post,'' he said.
- Shayne O'Cass