Dual Group 1 winning mare Shamrocker has the potential to rule over the weight-for-age features of this year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival according to triple Melbourne Cup winning jockey Glen Boss.
Boss, most famous for his association with glamour mare and three-time Melbourne Cup champion Makybe Diva, has tipped the Danny O’Brien-trained O’Reilly four-year-old as a star that can rise and fill the void of weight-for-age gallopers in Australia this spring.
With two-time Cox Plate winning superstar So You Think off and racing in Europe, there is a noticeable absence of genuine WFA horses to dominate in the spring showdowns including the 2011 Cox Plate.
Formerly prepared by the ‘Cups King’ Bart Cummings, So You Think posted his second Cox Plate win in last year’s race beating home veteran galloper Zipping.
There has been no official word on whether the Robert Hickmott-trained Zipping will race on this season, but having turned 10 on Monday there is a definite need for some younger weight-for-age horses to make their presence known.
Having ridden Shamrocker to victory in both the Group 1 Australian Guineas and Group 1 AJC Australian Derby in the autumn, Boss believes she has what it takes to add more elite levels to her record during the spring.
“There looks like there is a void up the top for a horse who might be a genuine weight-for-age (champion),” Boss said.
“You’ve got to see them come out and do it and hopefully she can make that transition to weight-for-age.
“And she’s doing everything on the tack off a spell with the gallops she’s had to indicate she is going nowhere but forward.
“She’s got a great profile – a lightly raced four-year-old mare who has beaten the boys.
“I sat down with my manager the other day and went through the weight-for-age horses and couldn’t find any.
“It just might be Shamrocker’s spring.”
Flemington-based trainer O’Brien will pay the nomination fee for Shamrocker in all the big spring majors including the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) running on October 15, the carnival’s showcase race the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday November 1 and Australia’s richest weight-for-age event the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.
Mares have a decent presence among the list of Melbourne Cup winners, Boss having ridden the most recent with Makybe Diva who saluted for her third straight Loving Cup trophy win in 2005.
However, as a four-year-old mare Shamrocker has a distinct disadvantage going into the Melbourne Cup field at Flemington should she go that far, Kiwi sensation Ethereal being the last 4YO mare to take out the world’s richest handicap in 2001 on the back of her Caulfield Cup success.
In the Cox Plate results Samantha Miss was the last female to win in 2008, but it was back in 2000 when the last four-year-old mare emerged the Cox Plate winner – the great Sunline scoring her first of two straight Cox Plate victories.
While Shamrocker has the ability and record to suggest a big spring awaits, Boss does have queries over the formline of last season’s three-year-old crop.
“There’s a lot to like about (Shamrocker) but I will say, personally, I’ve got a question mark on the three-year-olds of last season,” he said.
“Especially the colts and geldings because (Shamrocker) was able to towel them up and beat them easily.”
O’Brien is likely to run Shamrocker first-up in the $200,000 Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m), held under weight-for-age conditions at Caulfield on August 27 but Boss will not be aboard for her resuming race.
Boss said he would miss the mount on Shamrocker in favour of partnering with Anthony Cummings’ Golden Rose-bound Smart Missile in the $125,000 Group 3 The Run To The Roses (1200m) held at Rosehill on the same day, but that that was the only foreseeable clash of schedules.
“The Memsie will probably be too short for her (Shamrocker) anyway but from what I can see from there, there won’t be any other clashes so I think I’ve got it sorted,” he said.
Today at midday nominations for the 2011 Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate 2011 will close while early entries for the 2011 Melbourne Cup remain open until September.
Shamrocker has been around the top of the pre-nomination betting markets for all three of these races paying around $17 for the Caulfield Cup, $21 in the Cox Plate odds and $15 on the second line of Melbourne Cup betting.
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