The subject was the talk of the track at the Hawkesbury stand-alone meeting on Saturday with reasons and theories being floated as to why the trainer is set to leave Godolphin’s employ.
Some corporate bookmakers have even opened a betting market on O’Shea’s replacement, with
Cummings crunched from $9 into the $1.80 favourite and Freedman the dark horse.
James Cummings is the early favourite to take the reins at Godolphin if John O’Shea exits. Picture: Jenny Evans
There is also speculation Peter Moody will be approached to come out of retirement, English-based Charlie Appleby could be asked to take on the role given his success in Australia this season, and O’Shea’s right-hand man, Hall of Famer Darren Beadman is another popular choice.
But all of this speculation could be premature as stable insiders say no firm decision has been made about O’Shea’s future.
What is understood is that O’Shea’s stable contract is up for renewal and he is reconsidering his high profile position as Godolphin’s Australian trainer just three years after taking on the role.
Racing’s rumour mill was in overdrive on Saturday morning that O’Shea and Godolphin would soon be parting company.
Trainer John O’Shea is weighing up his future at Godolphin. Picture: David Clark
O’Shea didn’t return calls to The Sunday Telegraph and wasn’t at Hawkesbury races on Saturday.
Godolphin’s Henry Plumptre was at the stand-alone meeting but politely declined to comment on the possibility of a shock split.
If the rumours are true, it is likely Beadman will be asked to step in as Godolphin’s interim trainer until a decision on O’Shea’s replacement is made.
However, Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel told The Sunday Telegraph that he had contact with the Godolphin stable on Saturday morning and was assured O’Shea was still the official trainer of all the stable’s Hawkesbury runners.
John O’Shea’s assistant trainer Darren Beadman could step up to the top role in the interim. Picture: Jay Town
The possibility of a split between O’Shea and Godolphin comes as a surprise as they have enjoyed a career-best season. O’Shea has trained 166 winners during 2016-17 including four Group 1’s and stable record prizemoney of $15.4 million.
There has been suggestions O’Shea has lost enthusiasm for the job while others claim he has a difficult relationship with Plumptre and some other key Godolphin personnel. But O’Shea gave no hint of any likelihood of a split during an interview I did with him only a few days ago when he commented that with each year at Godolphin the stable has “got better at it”.
“Obviously, our record would have been even better had Winx not been there but we will keep chipping away and hope that we continue to do well,’’ O’Shea said of his successful season.
Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman could be the dark horse in the field to replace O’Shea. Picture: Colleen Petch
O’Shea took over at Godolphin after the Hawkesbury stand-alone meeting in 2014 when Peter Snowden stepped down to form a training partnership with his son, Paul.
O’Shea has subsequently trained more than 500 winners for Godolphin’s world famous royal blue colours, including 10 Group 1 winners and total prizemoney of nearly $45 million.
He has trained Hartnell to win the 2015 The BMW and 2016 Turnbull Stakes, successive Golden Rose wins with Exosphere (2015) and Astern (2016), the 2016 Epsom Handicap with Hauraki while his biggest success for the stable came earlier this month when It’s Somewhat won the Doncaster Mile.