The Roar
The Roar


John O'Shea and Godolphin, please stand up

2014 Melbuorne Cup hopeful Cavalryman (right) exercised at Werribee Quarantine Centre (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Guru
24th July, 2016

I wrote a couple of years ago in the spring of 2014 that John O’Shea was struggling as head trainer for Godolphin.

I had my suspicions for a little while after that due to a run of good results, but after this season, I will stand firm in my statement. John O’Shea is struggling.

Many arguments were made that I’d gone early in my assessment back in 2014; changing training methods for horses can often result in needing a preparation or two to show true results, and O’Shea needed time to settle in as well.

Those arguments no longer hold water.

He does sit second in the Sydney premiership behind Chris Waller, but given the quality of animal at his disposal and the power he has behind him, you would like to think he’d be further clear of Team Snowden.

Godolphin are all about success, and in spades. Since he took over from Peter Snowden, the stable hasn’t gone forwards, instead falling back.

I might have been a bit premature in saying that then due to the fact he only had the stable for a couple of months. But the clock is ticking. O’Shea has had the reigns for nearing two years now and Godolphin aren’t the feared giant they were. While prizemoney has ticked over, success at Group level hasn’t been as forthcoming and that was very evident in the autumn.

Exosphere was the talked up horse. I myself thought he looked to have come back in brilliant order and thought this could be the horse to put O’Shea on the world map. But the horse failed badly in two runs. In hindsight, the colt got too much praise for a racing resume that didn’t warrant his many plaudits.

O’Shea has only won a handful of Group l races, all of those away from the racing capital of Australia, Melbourne.


The Melbourne monkey on his back has grown to King Kong size. Winning a major spring Group 1 in Victoria must be a priority in the new season.

The problem is O’Shea doesn’t appear to have the arsenal to do so, and can’t seem to gain significant improvement from his best runners. When Snowden was training, you’d almost need a second hand to count the number of horses that could fill that position.

O’Shea can’t be doubted as a quality trainer in his own right; his record speaks for itself. But he and Godolphin aren’t the powerhouse team they perhaps should be. The gap between he and Waller won’t be turned around overnight but he can’t afford Team Snowden to close in on the royal blue silks. He knows he’ll need to take a Group 1 out in Victoria to feel comfortable as the face of the rich Godolphin stable.