After two disappointing runs in Europe, Australian sprinter Shamexpress will return to Oz for the spring where they will look to bounce back with a win in one of the major short distance classics.
The Danny O’Brien-trained O’Reilly colt was sent over to England this prep after their narrow win over Moment Of Change in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington in early March.
Hopes were high the youngster could be competitive on the international arena.
Things went amiss on June 18 at Royal Ascot however with Shamexpress crossing five lengths away ninth to Sole Power in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1005m).
Continuing on with their ambitious overseas’ assault O’Brien backed the three-year-old up on the weekend at Newmarket in the iconic Group 1 July Cup (1200m).
It was another out-of-the-money finish however with Shamexpress finishing seventh to Europe’s sprint champion Lethal Force who secured the Golden Jubilee – July Cup double.
While on paper the July Cup result was a shocker for the Aussie, O’Brien was happy with their effort and said inexperience at the notoriously undulating track caught them out.
“He has run well again but the hill has caught him out,” he said.
“The jockey felt on a flat track he probably finishes the race off and puts himself right in the finish, but just that rise over the last 100 (metres) is obviously pretty tough.
“We always knew to come here as a three year old with the jump in weights he was going to have step up a bit.
“They are very hard races to win. You have got to go somewhere with them, and it was either this or Queensland and I have certainly got no real dramas about coming here.
“I have no regrets about coming over here and he’s ran to great figures on both of his outings.
“We have had a great time and been very well looked after but he probably needs to find another three or four lengths to win a top-class Group One over here.”
O’Brien now plans to bring Shamexpress home where they will be prepared for a spring return targeting the sprint majors, their campaign to kick off in Melbourne on the weekend of Saturday October 26 at Moonee Valley.
“We will take home now and you’ll next see him in the springtime, where he may well start out on Cox Plate weekend,” he said.
The likely first-up option during the two-day Cox Plate Carnival for Shamexpress is the $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) under the lights on the Friday night.
The Clive Cox-trained July Cup winner Lethal Force meanwhile could also be down under-bound this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Invitations are flowing hard and fast for the crack galloper to appear in races from France to Hong Kong but connections are also considering a shot at the $600,000 Global Sprint Challenge bonus should they come to Victoria for the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day, Saturday November 9.
The 2013 Patinack Farm Classic is also a likely late season goal for Shamexpress.
“He will have a break here, go back into work at Newmarket, then travel out with the Cups horses and be ready for Melbourne Cup week for the sprints there,” O’Brien said.
When it comes to enjoying a punt on the ponies in the spring sprints this season make sure you don’t settle for second best odds.