Tony McEvoy’s in-form galloper Shiraz will shoot for a third straight win this weekend and is a 70% chance of doing that in Melbourne’s Aurie’s Star 2015 over Sydney’s Missile Stakes.
On Monday the $175,000 Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick only attracted six nominations with Racing NSW extending early entries until 11am on Tuesday morning.
There are now 14 nominees for the weight-for-age sprint, including McEvoy’s flying Zariz six-year-old Shiraz who was one of the late additions to the possible line-up.
Despite throwing the gelding, a winner of eight of his 13 career starts ahead of Saturday, into the mix for the Sydney feature McEvoy is still leaning towards a run at Flemington Racecourse on the weekend.
In Melbourne the Group spring action also gets underway with the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) where there are 20 possible runners.
Shiraz will get in on the 54kg minimum in the handicap clash, as opposed to 59kg in the WFA Missile Stakes, which is the preferred option according to McEvoy whose final decision will be made after the fields are released on Wednesday.
“I’m leaning towards Melbourne because it’s a handicap,” McEvoy told Racenet.
“But he doesn’t have to travel to run in the Missile and I just thought it would be unfair on the horse if I didn’t look at it.
“If we head to Melbourne he’ll go down on Thursday.”
Two back Shiraz returned to racing on July 4 at Rosehill beating home fellow Missile Stakes nominee Zaratone by a length and a half over 1100m on a Heavy (8) track.
He encountered another muddy Rosehill course a fortnight later when posting back-to-back wins with an even more impressive two and a half-length victory over Countryman last time out carrying 58kg.
McEvoy is pleased with Shiraz’s recent form and hopes wherever he runs he can put in a good performance in black-type company, which he races in for the first time on Saturday.
“He’s held his condition very well since his last run and I’m happy to just keep him where he’s at,” McEvoy said.
“I’m very, very pleased with him.”
Other notable Missile Stakes nominees include Chris Waller’s classy mare Royal Descent who hasn’t won a race since the 2013 ATC Oaks but who was last seen running third in both the Doncaster Mile and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April, and the Tony Gollan-trained Group 1 winning Brisbane veteran Temple Of Boom who is also in the mix for the Aurie’s Star at Flemington as well.
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