O'Brien taps back into Shamexpress


Danny O'Brien finally gets the opportunity to tap back into the blood that gave him one of his greatest racetrack victories when juvenile filly Embrace Me makes her debut at Flemington on Saturday.

Six years ago, O'Brien sent a first-starter to Headquarters and Shamexpress got the job done by four lengths on his way to a Group 1 win 12 months later, and the Flemington trainer is hopeful for a similar result from his daughter.

"It's always hard to come straight to Flemington and win but Shamexpress himself did that and it would be nice to think she could do it as well," O'Brien said on Friday.

"She's done everything we could ask," he said. "She has been to the Cranbourne trials and trialled nicely and she's come through that and improved a little bit so we're hopeful she can run well this Saturday.

"Daniel Moor that she felt good and had something left on the line."

Shamexpress won the 2013 Newmarket Handicap for O'Brien, pictured, before being sold the following year to Windsor Park Stud in New Zealand. He has had just a handful of two-year-old runners in New Zealand and Australia but O'Brien said he is shaping well for a first-season stallion.

"He's had a couple of nice winners in New Zealand but it's still very early days," he said. "I've got a couple more but they have been gelded and are a little behind her at this stage but I look forward to getting them going."

O'Brien is also set to test the Oaks potential of filly Queen Leonora, who runs in the 1700-metre Rogan Josh Handicap.

"She's a nice lightly-raced Savabeel filly who is learning all the time," he said. "She won a pretty strong maiden at Bendigo and she's still new to it but we've put blinkers on her tomorrow to sharpen her up a bit.

"It's a nice progression for her and if she can go out and win and prove herself she might make her way up to Queensland for the Oaks."

Story by Andrew Eddy for Racing.com

Pic by Bruno Cannatelli

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