Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien is confident his lightly-raced colt Shamexpress has come back bigger and stronger as a three-year-old and can commence a 2012 Victoria Derby campaign with a good first-up run in the McNeil Stakes at Caulfield this weekend.
The O’Reilly colt enjoyed a strong start to their campaign when winning a 1200m Flemington race by four lengths on debut back in January.
Next start they finished a close second to Pronto Pronto at Sandown before running a fifth to current 2012 Golden Rose favourite All Too Hard in the VRC Sires Produce Stakes, a race Pronto Pronto ran second in.
“He was ahead of schedule to get those runs in as a two-year-old,” O’Brien said.
“We bought him in New Zealand hopefully to have a nice staying three-year-old and older horse so it was nice to see him perform at two.”
Shamexpress makes their new season debut on Saturday in the $150,000 Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m), the untapped youngster to jump from barrier seven of 12 with Craig Williams in the saddle.
While the 1200m is likely a little short for them on the weekend, O’Brien hopes there are bigger things on the horizon for Shamexpress as they step up in distance this spring, their pedigree boasting plenty of staying potential being by O’Reilly out of Volksraad mare Volksrose.
“He’s in great shape and he’s matured into a lovely colt,” O’Brien said.
“He’s had two (unofficial) trials so he’s fairly forward but it’s probably a bit short for him on Saturday.”
Certainly the O’Reilly pedigree have produced some good success for O’Brien including 2007 Caulfield Cup winner Master O’Reilly and the recently retired Australian Guineas – Australian Derby double winning mare from last year Shamrocker.
O’Brien has a big end of season target on the cards for Shamexpress too, the horse heading towards the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on the first day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Saturday November 3.
“We’re hoping he gets all the way to the Derby this spring,” O’Brien said.
Current McNeil Stakes odds for Saturday are led by Tony Vasil’s undefeated filly Elite Elle ($3) who comes off a win in the Quezette Stakes.
Shamexpress meanwhile is rated an $11 chance.
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