O'Brien lays claim to king of the kids

Danny O’Brien laid claim to the title of king of the kids yesterday at Flemington when long-shot Shamrocker upstaged her rivals to snare the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes, just two weeks after winning the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes with unbeaten colt Star Witness.

O’Brien is no slouch with a two-year-old, but in recent seasons he has made his name as a trainer of stayers, with the likes of Master O’Reilly, Vigor, Demerger and Douro Valley flying the flag over longer distances.

After enjoying success with the progeny of New Zealand-based sire O’Reilly, staying is exactly what O’Brien bought Shamrocker to do.

The filly, starting big odds after coming through a narrow mid-week win last start, settled third in the run, but was caught three deep and posted there for the trip.

Short-priced favourite Willow Creek and In Faith, who had enjoyed good runs on the lead, turned for home there before the favourite drew clear.

But O'Brien's filly, despite the tough run, refused to go away and loomed up to the lead before edging clear over the final stages.

Willow Creek kicked strongly late but just failed, finishing second, while Yosei went back to the inside and made ground for third, ahead of Backgammon. The second-favourite In Faith, who had had a good run on the speed, dropped right out to finish at the tail.

The win was a pleasant surprise for O'Brien, adamant Shamrocker is having a two-year-old campaign just for experience and would be a far better three-year-old over ground.

And it showed she had plenty of determination after coming through a midweek Betfair Park Lakeside win almost a month ago.

“Three and a half weeks off and she tracked three deep for the entire race,” O'Brien said. “Very rarely do they hold on like that and she was probably the strongest on the line.

“We've always had hopes she'd be a nice Oaks filly in the spring. She's a big, long lanky staying O'Reilly filly so that's certainly given us a lot of promise of what she might do in the spring.”

O'Brien said the filly is now likely to head for a spell and be aimed at the Crown Oaks in November.

“I'll see how she does but I'd say more than likely she'll go to the paddock now and we'll have a lot to look forward to in the spring.”

Story by the Age's Michael Sharkie & AAP

Photo by Virtual Form Guide

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