After returning to the independent training ranks three years ago following his tenure at Godolphin, John O’Shea had to virtually start over.
Rebuilding his stable from the ground up, patience was his best friend as he blooded a team of mostly young and inexperienced horses.
But with 27 Sydney winners last season, almost triple his tally of 12 months earlier, the fruits of his labour are starting to show.
O’Shea is again preparing to be a carnival force and his next step is to unearth a flagship horse.
“Just trying to find a good Group One horse. If we find one of them it will be a big help,” O’Shea said.
Opacity appeals as the most likely to fill that void.
The burgeoning talent will edge closer to his return when he steps out in a barrier trial at Randwick on Friday.
He is slated to resume in the Tramway Stakes on September 5, a race that will determine his spring path.
“If he runs well in the Tramway, we will get him ready for the Epsom,” O’Shea said.
More immediately, the trainer has a talented trio heading to Randwick on Saturday, including lightly-raced colt Bravado in the Group Three Up And Coming Stakes (1300m).
A winner on debut at Kembla Grange, Bravado was a closing third to Saturday’s rival Smart Image at Rosehill last month in the race marred by Andrew Adkins’ fall.
O’Shea says race fitness will be crucial on what is expected to be another heavy track.
“His advantage is where he maps in the race and the fact he’s had some racing. They’re two things that will hold him in good stead,” O’Shea said.
Unlike several of his rivals, including favourite North Pacific, Bravado is not entered for the Golden Rose.
He will have one more run in the Ming Dynasty Quality before O’Shea turns him out in the belief he can develop into a genuine Group-class galloper of the future.
Stablemate All Saints’ Eve has already cut her teeth in stakes grade with a Group Three placing behind Asiago and subsequent Group One winner Shout The Bar.
She is an early favourite for her return in the opening race and O’Shea says she has come back a much stronger mare.
“She has improved and strengthened up. She was still a little bit weak last preparation,” O’Shea said.
“She will go through the mares races and hopefully end up in an Angst Stakes in a couple of months.”
Former New Zealander Rondinella rounds out O’Shea’s Randwick arsenal when she begins her march towards the better staying races in the Spring Preview Handicap (1400m).