Gai Waterhouse’s in-form Al Maher five-year-old King Lionheart looks to have earned a start in the Epsom Handicap 2011 this Saturday at Royal Randwick after their upset victory in the $175,000 Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill over the weekend.
Backing up from an earlier win at the track and distance, consistent middle-distance galloper King Lionheart ($8) was given a stellar ride from jockey Tommy Berry who had them settled well in second behind stablemate Fast Clip.
After a bad jump from the barriers top fancy Fast Clip ($2.40EF) sped up quickly to lead setting the pace before King Lionheart crept up on the outside.
The duo fought it out stride for stride down the straight in a thrilling two-horse affair before King Lionheart ($8) eventually hit the front with 50 metres to go and pulled away to beat home Fast Clip by a length to hand Waterhouse the winning Shannon Stakes quinella.
The Hawkes-trained Lone Command ($17) crossed a further half-length away third, while fourth place went to equal favourite Secret Admirer who was more than four lengths off the winner.
2011 Epsom Handicap Odds
There was early leading up to the Shannon Stakes when the Brett Partelle-trained Torio’s Quest threw jockey Hugh Bowman off when making their way to the barriers before jumping the fence and galloping into the members’ car park at Rosehill Gardens forcing their scratching from the race.
King Lionheart’s Shannon Stakes win saw their record boosted to six victories and four minor placings from 12 starts, Waterhouse hoping to add to that this Saturday in the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m).
Waterhouse will attempt a record-equalling seventh Epsom Handicap victory this Saturday, a record set by her father Tommy Smith, the esteemed trainer currently with 15 nominees for the feature.
Of Waterhouse’s Epsom hopes beaten Shannon Stakes favourite Fast Clip is considered her best chance sitting at a quote of $16 in the Epsom Handicap odds at Luxbet that are lead by Sincero ($3.70).
King Lionheart is the next shortest-priced of Waterhouse’s Epsom Handicap contingent at $21.
In a surprise announcement on Saturday, however, Waterhouse declared Fast Clip an unlikely Epsom Handicap acceptor.
“King Lionheart will definitely run in the Epsom, he’s been set for the race,” she said.
“Fast Clip is going great guns but I’m probably going to keep him for the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield in two weeks.”
The $350,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) runs as one of three elite levels on Caulfield Guineas Day, October 8.
Meanwhile Shannon Stakes fourth-placegetter Secret Admirer remains the $6 second elect after her unlucky run on the weekend.
“She went Ok,” Secret Admirer’s hoop Brenton Avdulla said of her run in the Shannon.
“It is very hard to make up ground when the rail is out…hopefully she will be better on the big track next week.”
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2011 Shannon Stakes Results
|1||10||KING LIONHEART||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||–||9||52kg||$8|
|2||7||FAST CLIP||Gai Waterhouse||Chris Munce||1L||7||53kg||$2.40EF|
|3||9||LONE COMMAND||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Nathan Berry||1.5L||6||52kg||$17|
|4||3||SECRET ADMIRER||Grahame Begg||Brenton Avdulla||4.2L||2||54kg||$2.40EF|
|5||4||SYREON||Chris Waller||Rod Quinn||5.1L||5||54kg||$41|
|6||6||OLDER THAN TIME||Gai Waterhouse||Jim Cassidy||6.5L||3||53.5kg||$41|
|7||2||TRIPLE HONOUR (NZ)||Chris Waller||Corey Brown||6.8L||8||57.5kg||$21|
|8||8||OFFENDERS||Peter Snowden||Christian Reith||7.2L||1||52kg||$15|
|9||1||DESCARADO (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||7.3L||4||61kg||$21|
|10||11||LEVI’S CHOICE||John P Thompson||Blake Spriggs (a)||7.4L||10||52kg||$101|
|–||5||TORIO’S QUEST||Brett Partelle||Hugh Bowman||–||0||–||–|