Shamexpress in Peak Condition Ahead of Newmarket

Having finished second behind a flying Snitzerland in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) first-up on February 15th, trainer Danny O’Brien is confident of a successful run for Shamexpress in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington this weekend after impressing in a laid-back hit-out on Tuesday.

Shamexpress will attempt to defend his 2013 Newmarket Handicap title at Flemington this weekend

Shamexpress will attempt to defend his 2013 Newmarket Handicap title at Flemington this weekend. Photo: Sarah Ebbett

Despite finishing third of three in the jump-out which included exciting John O’Shea-trained sprinter Bernabeu and Va Pensiero, O’Brien told TVN the exercise was nothing more than a step in preparations for this weekend’s major Group 1.

“We just let him stretch his legs; it is the usual way we approach the straight races, particularly with him it has been a good formula” O’Brien said.

“He just comes out and goes around one the bridle and has a blow and that usually tops him off for the race.”

Having produced a standout season over the sprint events of 2013, O’Brien confirmed Shamexpress has taken to training particularly well in 2014 and is anticipating another memorable preparation after gaining notable size and muscle mass over the summer.

“He is a more mature horse; he is a four-year-old, his is bigger and stronger and more seasoned, he is definitely going in as a better article than last year; he is carrying 6kg more so he needs to be” O’Brien added.

“His last two runs have been at weight for age in the VRC Sprint and the Lightning Stakes, they are the benchmark sprints and he has run second in both. He gets a bit of weight relief in the handicap and there should be no excuses for him.”

Having claimed last year’s addition of the Newmarket Handicap ahead of Moment Of Change and Aeronautical, Shamexpress is bidding to become only the fifth runner to successfully defend the highly sought-after prize and first since Razor Sharp completed the double in 1982/83.

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