Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien has revealed plans to target the major Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2013 sprints with his consistent galloper Shamexpress.
The O’Reilly stallion, third to Nechita as a three-year-old in the 2012 Coolmore Stud Stakes, enjoyed a career highlight last autumn and O’Brien hopes they can repeat the feat this coming season.
In March this year they narrowly held on to defeat the Peter Moody-trained Moment Of Change in the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington Racecourse.
O’Brien will again set the now four-year-old for the Lexus Newmarket Handicap, the title defense to take place on March 8, 2014.
After this year’s Newmarket Shamexpress travelled overseas but was unsuccessful in their two English assignments.
They returned for the spring and had two runs.
Their first was a ninth, albeit beaten only one and a half lengths by Buffering in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
They improved on that 15 days later at their preferred Flemington track however when second to the same Rob Heathcote-trained champ in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) when ridden by this year’s Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver.
As well as the 2014 Newmarket Handicap, Shamexpress will also shoot for a win in the $500,000 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) down the Flemington straight on February 15 – a race they were sixth to Black Caviar in this year.
“They’re the two big sprint races and they’re both down the straight, which is good for him,” O’Brien said to Racing Victoria this week.
After becoming the first maiden in history to win the iconic weight-for-age classic at Moonee Valley, the son of Snitzel will shoot for another first in the autumn.
They’ll be aimed at the $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on March 1 and, if successful, will be the maiden Cox Plate – Australian Guineas double winner in history.
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