Godolphin’s sparkling start to the Australian racing year could be the first sign they are beginning to peg back the dominance of Chris Waller.
Sheikh Mohammed’s big money operation had three elite-level wins last season, lagging behind Sydney’s premier trainer Waller who plundered 15 Group One races.
But Godolphin’s early season form under trainer John O’Shea would suggest they are starting to close the gap.
At the same point last season, Waller had trained 15 Group winners to O’Shea’s six.
This year Waller leads by one win heading into the Golden Pendant meeting at Rosehill.
While Group One Golden Rose winner Astern loomed as a powerful colt with justified Caulfield Guineas favouritism, an elevated temperature skittled those plans and he is being saved for the Coolmore Stud Stakes later in spring.
Stablemate Impending was third behind him in the Golden Rose (1400m), which looks to be strong form for Saturday’s Group Two Stan Fox Stakes over 1500m at Rosehill.
“He really came out of the Golden Rose in great order,” O’Shea said.
“He’s been a bit unlucky. He’s been knocking on the door against tough opposition.
“The company isn’t as strong here and he worked very, very well at Osborne Park on Wednesday.”
Impending is on the second line of betting at $2.60 behind Hawkes Racing-trained colt Divine Prophet who is the $2.30 top pick.
Divine Prophet finished fourth in the Golden Rose after being held up in the straight.
Trainers Peter and Paul Snowden have Mediterranean in the Stan Fox, as they look for their sixth Group win this season compared to their solitary victory at this time last year.
Waller’s Stan Fox runner Cellarman is the $26 outsider of the six-horse Stan Fox field, while the James Cummings-trained Good Standing will stay in Sydney to run in the race after being scratched from the Caulfield Guineas Prelude.
WALLER VS GODOLPHIN
GROUP WINNERS AT THIS STAGE IN 2015-16
*Waller – 15
*Godolphin – 6
GROUP WINNERS SO FAR IN 2016-2017
*Waller – 8
*Godolphin – 7
*Peter and Paul Snowden – 5