The Myer Classic 2016 is shaping up as a nice target for Kiwi mare Shillelagh who is set to join stablemate Xtravagant down under for a spring bid in Melbourne this season.
The Jamie Richards & Stephen Autridge-trained Xtravagant is a dual Group 1 winner back home in New Zealand, but failed to win at elite level in Australia during the autumn running eighth to Palentino in Flemington’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
He returned home and atoned with a Group 3 win over the 1200m in Group 3 company on April 30 and is back in Oz this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival targeting the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 22.
The fellow Richards-trained Shillelagh is also on a Group 1 mission in Australia this season with co-trainer Autridge confirming her trip this week.
To date the rising Savabeel five-year-old has had just the six starts for four wins, the latest over 1200m in late June at Ruakaka.
The promising Christopher and Susanna Grace-bred and owned mare will hit Aussie shores a week after her better performed stablemate and the team will kick her off in some easier Saturday features before confirming exact spring plans.
“We’re going to send her over a week later to give the colt time to settle in before she turns up,” Autridge told NZ Racing Desk speaking of the half-sister to 2011 Brisbane Cup winner Tullamore.
“She’ll have a couple of Saturday races to start with and hopefully she will be going well enough come carnival time for the fillies and mares’ races.”
The ultimate goal is to have her performing in top company against her own kind before progressing onto tougher assignments including the $200,000 Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 30.
If all goes swimmingly for the Kiwi visitor, the best mares-only race of the season is the $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) held at Flemington Racecourse on Victoria Derby Day, October 29, which kicks off the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Another possible Myer Classic lead-up for Shillelagh could be the $200,000 Group 2 Tristarc Stakes (1400m) on Caulfield Cup Day, October 15, which has produced two of the past four champions.
Appearance (7th) in 2012 improved on her Tristar Stakes run to score an upset Myer Classic result at 40/1 four years ago before the Chris Waller-trained Red Tracer completed the double 12 months later in 2013.
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