Filly's turn if pace is right

Race tempo holds the key to whether Shamrocker can end a 22-year drought for fillies in tomorrow's AJC Derby.

Shamrocker's bid to become the first filly since Research in 1989 to win the AJC Derby will be largely determined if the classic is run at a muddling pace, as more often than not it is, or if speed is injected to make it a true staying test.

Consensus is that if the Derby develops into a 600m sprint home, then it will play into the hands of New Zealander Jimmy Choux.

Glen Boss, who rides Shamrocker, said the Derby was often won not by the best stayer, but by the horse with the best turn of foot.

"I won the Derby on Starcraft and he wasn't a stayer. Mahogany won two Derbies and he wasn't a stayer," Boss said.

With Peter Snowden already flagging that Retrieve will be more aggressive than he was in the Tulloch Stakes, there is a growing feeling there will be a genuine pace.

"Retrieve looks like he's got only one way to win the race -- going out and setting a genuine tempo because he's going to get outsprinted by Jimmy Choux every day of the week," Boss said.

"The way I can see Jimmy Choux getting beaten is if they go a good clip and probably nullify his sprint. If they go slow they might as well stay at home because Jimmy Choux will outsprint them.

"No one is going to let Jimmy Choux dictate, so I'm pretty confident it will be a genuine run race."

Trainer Danny O'Brien said taking on the colts and geldings was something that didn't faze him. He noted that Shamrocker had been racing against them for most of her career.

"She won the (VRC) Sires' Produce and Australian Guineas against them," O'Brien said.

"She's not just a hit and hope. She's going to go in as second or third favourite and she's in great shape. Her whole preparation has been built around the Derby and it's been a good prep.

"Last start the tempo beat her. They quickened on the home corner and left her flat footed, but she was strong late. When there's a strong tempo, as there was in the Guineas, it plays into her hands."

Boss agreed with bookmakers that TAB Sportsbet favourite Jimmy Choux was the one to beat, but he was also adamant that Shamrocker could rewrite history.

Boss said Shamrocker was just as strong on the line as any horse. "If she races like she did in the Guineas -- and she obviously came very quick that day - I think she can win."

Story by Adrian Dunn, to view full story at Herald Sun website click here

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