No place like home as super filly repels raiders

They came from everywhere for the Australian Guineas.

There was Playing God, the highly touted raider from Western Australia, who had already beaten older horses to taste group 1 glory in Perth before Christmas. No mean feat for a three-year-old.

We Can Say It Now, the strapping New Zealand filly, had impressed all who had seen her as she worked the house down at Flemington earlier this week.

Startsmeup, from the Bruce Hill yard, had made the journey down from Queensland.

Surely the winner would come from the ranks of the visitors: certainly the betting suggested so. But racing has a way of delivering the unexpected. And with a starting price of $31, it's fair to say that Danny O'Brien's three-year-old filly Shamrocker was not among those expected to be in the finish.

But the daughter of New Zealand stallion O'Reilly looked nothing like a despised outsider as she sailed past the post almost two lengths clear.

While the big names had come from all points of the compass, Shamrocker, housed at O'Brien's Flemington stables, merely had a short stroll across the track before saddling up to do the business.

She might have been friendless in the market, but that also didn't bother connections. Senior part-owner Jeff Dimery confessed to having won plenty on his filly. How much? He's not saying, although he will admit to collecting enough to extend his property portfolio.

"I backed her at 100s, then a few times at 81s, then at 60-1 … I'd rather not say how much … but it's enough to buy a couple of homes."

Which suburbs? "The outer suburbs maybe," he said with an ear-splitting grin, his voice hoarse from roaring Shamrocker home.

There are some pretty bold plans for the horse now. She too will become a traveller, journeying up the Hume Highway to Sydney to target the classics. And if things go to plan, the stoutly bred filly will be lining up on the first Tuesday in November.

Given that she has had the class to beat the colts at group 2 level as a two year old in the Sires' Produce Stakes, and now at group 1 level in one of the country's major three-year-old races, who is to say that she can't progress to that sort of level, particularly as O'Brien expects her to improve the further she goes.

"She ran super in the … Oaks [2500m when runner up to Brazilian Pulse last spring] and we went into the first-up run probably a little bit wanting knowing that this was going to be her go second-up," he said.

It is one of the ironies of racing that had next week's Kewney Stakes - a traditional target for fillies - not been reduced in distance from 1600 metres to 1400m, O'Brien probably would have given the Guineas a miss with Shamrocker.

"The way they have got it now, [staying] fillies like her have to run here rather than in the Kewney. This is a real bonus."

Story by Michael Lynch,to view Age story click here

Photo by Slickpix, to view Slickpix website click here

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