John O’Shea confident Southern Lad can go straight to the top


“I think he will enjoy the way they race down the straight and he has always been a good hold up and sprint home horse.

“The only worry was barrier one, but they don’t often follow the fence there so he should get the right run and might just be too strong for them late.”

Southern Lad is the winner of five of his 25 starts and nine of those runs came in 2020. His only win came at Randwick on January 11, but he was never more than 1¾ lengths from the winner.

He has also run five further places, mostly in good company. He ran Everest winner Classique Legend to a half-length in the Bob Charley Stakes in June and was also runner-up in the Wagga Town Plate.

Southern Lad is rated an $8.50 chance in an open market where proven straight-trackers Sirius Suspect and Defiant Dancer share favouritism at $3.80.

Meanwhile, the scratching of Southern Lad and early favourite Athiri means Eleven Eleven is the favourite for the Christmas Classic at Canterbury on Friday.

Trainer Greg Hickman is using it as a final lead-up to the Snippets Sprint at the Magic Millions for Eleven Eleven, which has drawn the outside gate.

“He likes a bit of room in his races, so if he can drop in somewhere he will get his chance,” Hickman said. “There looks to be plenty of speed and if he gets the right run he will be coming quickly at the end.

“We are looking to get him back to the Gold Coast and this is the perfect race after his win at Wyong [in the Magic Millions three and four-year-old].”

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Eleven Eleven is the $4.60 favourite, but could be challenged for his place at the top of the market by Discharged and Hightail, which are returning from spells.

Joe Pride thinks Easy Eddie, a $10 hope, is fitter for his first run in more than a year and is confident he will perform on his preferred wet surface.

“He is always a horse that takes a run to find his best and the soft ground is in his favour,” Pride said.

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