Epsom Handicap 2017 Question for Shannon Stakes Winner Washington Heights

Trainer Gerald Ryan will reassess the option of backing his in-form galloper Washington Heights up in Saturday week’s 2017 Epsom Handicap after a devastating Shannon Stakes win on Golden Rose Stakes Day.

Washington Heights

Washington Heights could back-up in the $1 million Epsom Handicap 2017 after a brilliant last-to-first win in the Shannon Stakes. Photo: Steve Hart.

The lightly-raced six-year-old has been back down under after a stint in Hong Kong since the winter and his form in Australia since returning has been outstanding.

He has now won three of his four assignments back home, including the last-to-first victory at Rosehill Gardens today in the Group 2 $200,000 Schweppes Shannon Stakes (1500m).

Ryan will now wait to see how the son of Commands comes through the run before making a decision on whether to return next weekend for a shot at Royal Randwick’s Group 1 $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m).

“He’s entered, but whether he goes there is the question,” Ryan said trackside after the Shannon Stakes.

“The whole plan all the way along was to run him today and then sum him up.

“I’m not going to make any race day decisions.”

Washington Heights ran in the Shannon Stakes on the back of a victory over 1400m at Randwick on September 2 and had no problems seeing out the 1500m.

Getting in well on 55kg with Kerrin McEvoy retaining the ride, the galloper was settled right at the back of the field, making up all the late ground and showing off a blistering turn of foot.

It was the Bjorn Baker-trained Imposing Lass leading the Shannon Stakes field around with her stablemate Lubiton and the Chris Waller-trained Good Project also up on the pace early.

Near the back with Washington Heights was the also Waller-trained favourite Dawn Wall.

She and the other well-fancied mare in the mix Euro Angel did nothing however as they turned for home, while Washington Heights got to the outside as they straightened and began his big run for the line.

The six-year-old went straight past all of his rivals to take the lead 75 metres out, pushing forward for a half-length win over the brave Fred Cowell-trained veteran eight-year-old Mighty Lucky ($41).

Holding third rounding out the Shannon Stakes trifecta was the front runner Imposing Lass who battled on well.

Ryan believes the key to getting Washington Heights back in form was giving him the three weeks between runs, so now faces a tough decision on whether to run the horse again in just seven days’ time.

“We’ve got him back going good,” Ryan, who won the 2003 Epsom Handicap with Clangalang, said.

“I’ll see what happens. The plans was always to go today then reassess.

“I don’t want to press too far in.

“He’s won a Group 2 today but I don’t know how far we’ll take him.”

Before the Shannon Stakes victory the horse was equal 50th on the Epsom Handicap ballot allocated just 50kg and paying $26 in futures markets at Ladbrokes.com.au for the mile classic.

One thing Ryan has ruled out is a trip south to Melbourne this spring, despite post-win comments from McEvoy about the horse shaping-up as a possible contender for Caulfield’s Group 1 $500,000 Toorak Handicap (1600m) on Ladbrokes Guineas Day (October 14).

“I don’t want to take him to Melbourne,” Ryan confirmed.

“We’ll stay here and we might give him a break and get him ready for the autumn.

“I might think about backing him up [in the Epsom]…it’s a great problem to have.”

To check out the updated Epsom Handicap 2017 odds on Washington Heights visit Ladbrokes.com.au today.

Shannon Stakes Results & Finishing Order

Rosehill Race 5 – 23/09/2017

Place # Horse Trainer Jockey Margin Br. Wgt. SP
1 5 WASHINGTON HEIGHTS Gerald Ryan Kerrin McEvoy 7 55kg $4.80
2 2 MIGHTY LUCKY Fred Cowell Chris O’Brien 0.5L 1 57kg $41
3 11 IMPOSING LASS (NZ) Bjorn Baker Tim Clark 2.8L 9 53kg $7.50
4 8 LUBITON Bjorn Baker Glyn Schofield 3.7L 6 53kg $7
5 9 DAWN WALL Chris Waller Corey Brown 4.7L 2 53kg $3.40F
6 4 EURO ANGEL (NZ) Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes Brenton Avdulla 5L 4 55.5kg $5
7 7 DARK EYES Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Adam Hyeronimus 5.2L 3 54.5kg $31
8 10 HEARTLINGS Kerry Parker Jay Ford 5.8L 5 53kg $51
9 1 GOOD PROJECT Chris Waller Hugh Bowman 6L 8 59kg $9.50
6 OMEI SWORD Chris Waller Tommy Berry 0
3 BONNY O’REILLY (NZ) Bjorn Baker Jason Collett 0

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