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O'Shea excited by Linebacker's Champagne potential

There’s just a hint of excitement in trainer John O’Shea when he talks about emerging colt Linebacker that’s hard not to notice.

Trainer JOHN O'SHEA.
Trainer JOHN O'SHEA. Picture: Steve Hart

The unbeaten youngster has been aimed squarely at Saturday's Group 1 $1 million Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick since his debut win back in February and John O'Shea couldn't be happier with how things have transpired.

Linebacker lived up to O'Shea's expectations when he jumped from a maiden win to take out the Group 3 Baillieu (1400m) three weeks ago, outpointing Anode and Broadsiding, and he said after that win he'd be even better getting out to a mile.

"He's always been a nice horse for us and we've always thought quite highly of him,'' O'Shea said.

"So far he's yet to disappoint us.

"He was very good (last start) and we thought he gave himself every chance to make a nice horse. The form around him all round has been very good.

"He's been a horse we've been hanging out to have."

The last horse to come through the Baillieu and win the Champagne was The Mission in 2017.

O'Shea feels Linebacker, $2.70 with TAB on Thursday, will be at his best when he's allowed to roll along and get some control but he's wary that's unlikely to be the case in the Champagne.

He's adamant the colt has adaptability on his side but said it'll largely be up to jockey Tommy Berry to chart the right passage.

"There looks like a few horses that are long in the market have the propensity to roll forward and may or may not inject some tempo,'' O'Shea said.

"He's going to be in a forward position and we just need to determine how far forward he is and we won't be able to until they jump.

"He can take a sit, there's plenty of options for him."

Berry also pilots Ravello for O'Shea in the Group 3 $250,000 Gow-Gates Frank Packer Plate (2000m) and the trainer was encouraged by a return to form with his last start third behind the promising City Of Lights.

He said Ravello did a good job to stay on for third when the race changed complexion quickly in the middle stages and he was forced to drag the field up to a tearaway leader.

"We wanted to see him back in the game as it were and we thought he did that really well,'' he said.

"He's got the ability but the other day a horse took off and we were in a beautiful spot until that happened.

"The way the race was run never suited him."

Lion's Roar returns in the Catanach's Jewellers Handicap (1400m) having ended his summer prep with his head held high when he broke a drought to win the Summer Cup.

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