Trainer Danny O’Brien has confirmed leading three-year-old Shamus Award make his Sydney debut in this weekend’s major Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m), and while confident of success, rates New Zealand raider Puccini as the team’s biggest rival.
While yet to contest a race on Australian shores, Puccini claimed the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) last time out on March 1st and should rate amongst the race’s leading chances, according to O’Brien.
“I think the horse that looks the most promising is Puccini from New Zealand” O’Brien told AAP.
“He’s been very dominant over there and the best New Zealand three-year-old is usually a pretty good horse.”
Having recently contested major races outside his division under weight-for-ago conditions, O’Brien expects Shamus Award to revel in returning to a three-year-old race at set weights.
“The only one he ran against his own age was the Australian Guineas” O’Brien said.
“He’s used to racing against the harder, tougher weight-for-age horses. So back to three-year-olds should be a nice relief for him.
“He’s come out of the Australian Cup really well and he seems to be in great order.
“I don’t think the chance in direction will be an issue.”
Having secured the 2013 Cox Plate in impressive fashion, Shamus Award has returned to the track in typically scintillating form this season, following up a strong run for third in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) first-up with an impressive victory in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) before fading to finish sixth in the Australian Cup only one week later on March 8th.
Puccini has so-far secured five wins and four places in 14 race starts across the ditch, with three victories at Group 2 level preceding his most recent triumph.
Shamus Award currently leads early betting markets for the 2014 Rosehill Guineas at a quote of $4.60, ahead of Puccini ($5), Dissident ($6) ad Cadillac Mountain ($10).
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