At Tuesday’s early morning Moonee Valley workouts that were marred by the untimely passing of Cedarberg, one horse made an impressive start to their spring carnival campaign with Danny O’Brien’s dual Group 1 winner, the 2011 Melbourne Cup-bound Shamrocker strutting her stuff.
O’Reilly mare Shamrocker put in an impressive gallop this morning with ace hoop Glen Boss in the mount, showing her Flemington-based trainer O’Brien she was ready to hit the turf running when she resumes in the $200,000 Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday week, August 28.
“She is a very good mare obviously and I don’t think she’s been going better than what she is going into the spring,” O’Brien said.
A stakes winner at just her third start winning the Group 2 VRC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) as a juvenile in March of 2010, Shamrocker has emerged as one of the horses, male or female, to watch this spring and back in the early odds at Luxbet.
Her three-year-old year was also an impressive one, Shamrocker finishing second to Brazilian Pulse in the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington last Melbourne Cup Carnival before she entered the record books winning the Group 1 Australian Guineas – AJC Australian Derby double during the autumn.
“She’s a very clean-winded filly; you don’t need to race her much to have her very fit,” O’Brien explained.
“She won the AJC Derby at her fourth run in the preparation.”
Other big runs from the progressive Shamrocker last season included her third to Kiwi sensation Jimmy Choux in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and her last-start second behind Absolutely in the Group 1 AJC Oaks (2400m) at her most recent run on April 16.
“She’s obviously a mare with a great record but I’ve never thought she’d be anywhere near her best until she turned four and possibly later being an (offspring of) O’Reilly,” O’Brien said.
“She was a particularly backward filly early even though she’s won all those races and she’s got a lot of improvement in her still.”
O’Brien has Shamrocker entered for all the major spring features and she is dominating in the betting markets for everything from the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups to the weight-for-age Cox Plate.
Having shown her ability over 2400 metres with her Australian Derby win at Randwick back in April, Shamrocker is the $13 third favourite in the Luxbet odds for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) to run on October 15.
She trails only Peter Moody’s Lights Of Heaven ($7) who resumed with an eye-catching second behind Whobegotyou in the PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield last Saturday, and Queensland Oaks winner Scarlett Lady ($11) who will run first-up at home in New Zealand before heading back to Australia for her spring assault.
In the Cox Plate odds, Shamrocker is rated a $21 chance to take out the $3 million Moonee Valley classic on October 22.
O’Brien confirmed on Tuesday, however, that Shamrocker would not run in both the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate and that a decision on which lucrative feature to tackle was pending her progress this prep.
Plans are for Shamrocker to back up after the Memsie Stakes with a run in either the $300,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 10, which would be her first official start at the track that hosts the Cox Plate, or vie for her third elite level win in the $350,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 17.
“She’ll go to the Memsie and then she’ll either go second-up in the Dato or the following week into the Underwood,” O’Brien said.
“Her third start will be the ($400,000 Group 1) Caulfield Stakes (2000m on October 8) and following that run we’ll decide whether she goes into the Cox Plate or the Caulfield Cup.
“She’ll only run in either of them as her final run into what is her ultimate aim, the Melbourne Cup.”
O’Brien will pay-up for Shamrocker to contest the iconic $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) held at Flemington on Tuesday November 1 when nominations for Australia’s premier thoroughbred contest are taken on Thursday September 1, 2011.
Futures Melbourne Cup 2011 betting markets have Shamrocker at a price of $15, equal third favourite with defending Melbourne Cup winner Americain and runner-up Maluckyday.
Again, it is the duo of Lights Of Heaven ($11) and Scarlett Lady ($12) who headline the Cups betting.
O’Brien is very confident that the Melbourne Cup is the race for Shamrocker as she is well-suited to Flemington, but the two-miles of the ‘race that stops a nation’ is still a query.
“She loves Flemington and everything we do with her this spring will be about trying to win the Melbourne Cup,” O’Brien said.
View the full 2011 Melbourne Cup betting futures right now at Luxbet and get on the Shamrocker bandwagon before odds on the top mare firm throughout the carnival.
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