Shanghai Warrior could join the growing list of horses being targeted at the 2012 Cox Plate after a strong win in the Group 3 2012 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Trainer Pat Hyland declared the Cox Plate a potential target after the four-year-old’s previous win in the Bob Skilton Handicap last month and he improved again on Saturday to win his first start at black-type level.
With race favourite Golden Archer leading for the majority of the race, Shanghai Warrior loomed up on the outside before taking the lead and accelerating clear inside the final 100 metres to win by nearly a length.
While the Cox Plate may still remain a long-term goal for the son of Elvstroem, the four-year-old will get his first chance at the top level next month in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).
In a warning to his rivals, Hyland said Shanghai Warrior will only improve as he steps up in distance.
“You’ll see the best of him a bit later on when he gets over more ground, these are just the preliminaries,” Hyland said.
The lightly-raced entire has displayed impressive results so far, winning five of nine starts and placing on three other occasions.
A gallant Golden Archer produced his usual honest performance to take runner-up honours while the consistent Zamorar took third place.
Group 1 winner Green Birdie showed some promise down the inside but failed to match it with the leaders as he finished 3 1/2 lengths off the winner in fourth place.
Tony McEvoy’s French import Sysmo finished strongly in just his third start on Australian soil, storming home from the back of the field to finish in fifth position.
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Aurie’s Star Handicap 2012 – Results
|1||9||SHANGHAI WARRIOR||Pat Hyland||Steven King||–||5||54kg||$8|
|2||4||GOLDEN ARCHER||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||1L||4||56kg||$2.80F|
|3||6||ZAMORAR||David Bourne||Craig Newitt||1.75L||8||54kg||$3.10|
|4||2||GREEN BIRDIE (NZ)||Tony Vasil||Damien Oliver||3.5L||2||58.5kg||$12|
|5||13||SYSMO (FR)||Tony McEvoy||Michael Walker||3.7L||11||54kg||$9.50|
|6||10||BALZEUS||Terry & Karina O’Sullivan||Danny Nikolic||4L||6||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$16|
|7||7||OFFENDERS||Peter Snowden||Chris Symons||4.3L||9||54kg||$31|
|8||12||TWILIGHTING||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Dwayne Dunn||5.3L||3||54kg||$20|
|9||8||ULUNDI||Pat Carey||Damian Lane (a)||5.5L||7||54kg||$31|
|10||5||SOUND JOURNEY||Peter Gelagotis||Dean Yendall||5.8L||10||54kg||$81|
|11||1||MIDAS TOUCH (GB)||Robert Hickmott||Craig Williams||9.55L||1||60kg||$31|