“We have put them on in the Festival to see what they do rather than putting them on on grand final day. If he goes well in them they will be there in the Villiers.”
Live And Free was a one-time Queensland Derby favourite and boasts a strong ownership team including former Seven boss Tim Worner, AFL chief Gillon McLachlan and his brother Hamish. The five-year-old has provided more than a bit of fun for them, having won more than $300,000 in 19 starts for five wins and six placings.
He struck form this time last year when he won back-to-back 1800m races over the New Year period. Then he didn’t have a lot of luck in his winter campaign, which included a couple of photo finish placings in Sydney behind Fuchu and Agassi and then Grey Lion and Girl Tuesday in the Lord Mayors Cup.
He went to Caulfield for a 2000m race after those efforts and ran into Pacodali, which won the Eclipse Stakes during the spring.
“He has met some nice horses along the way,” O’Shea said. “He is very capable and the blinkers will give him a bit of focus, we hope.
“He drops from carries 58½ kilos first-up at Newcastle to 53½ and we have been able to get Brenton [Avdulla] to ride him, who as a good record on him.
“There is still a fair bit of improvement in him but, from the good draw, I think he will run a good race. He will be better when he gets to Randwick because he always runs well there.”
Live And Free is $16 outsider for the Festival, where those at the bottom of the handicap dominate the betting. Godolphin miler Ranier is the $5 favourite, with Bobbing and Don’t Give A Damn at $6. All three are on the limit weight of 53kg.
Godolphin trainer James Cummings believes it is a great chance for another group 3 for Ranier after he won the Carbine Club Stakes as a three-year-old
“I am happy to give him his chance,’ Cummings said.
Meanwhile, Golden Gift-winning jockey Andrew Adkins is likely to be out of the saddle until the new year after fracturing his wrist falling down some stairs at home while putting out the bins.