Another chance for Sham to wow crowds

 Shamrocker's connections haven't let last year's forgettable Spring Racing Carnival ruin their dreams with the two-time Group 1 winner.

The 2010/11 season's Australian 3YO Filly of the Year is again on the Cups trail and will make her first public appearance since last year's Emirates Melbourne Cup in a Flemington jumpout this Friday.

Trainer Danny O'Brien said Shamrocker appeared to never recover from a testing three-year-old autumn campaign, highlighted by wins in the Australian Guineas and ATC Australian Derby, last spring but remains hopeful she may yet prove an elite stayer.

“She won the Derby and then backed up in the (ATC) Oaks on a very, very heavy track and I think that took a bit out of her and she never really got going last spring,” he said.

“We're obviously entering this spring off a completely different situation, where she's had the autumn off, and we're hoping to see the benefit of that on the track.

“She's a dual Group 1 winner, so we're not going to keep racing her just for the hell of it. We'll want to see her come back to her best to keep persevering and I don't see any reason why she won't.”

The Melbourne Cup, when she beat home just two rivals, ended a disastrous spring that unravelled after a promising first-up eighth in the Memsie Stakes. A second-last in the Underwood Stakes was followed by a seventh in Turnbull Stakes and third-last in the Cox Plate.

While the daughter of O'Reilly hasn't raced since 1 November, she hasn't been paddock-bound. O'Brien gave her a light autumn preparation before a let-up ahead of a trip to Queensland, where she undertook several more weeks work alongside stablemates Shopaholic and Donna Cattiva.

Friday's showing will determine whether Shamrocker has another jumpout, but O'Brien said she will almost certainly resume at Caulfield on 18 August in either the weight-for-age Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) or Group 3 Cockram Stakes (1200m) for mares.

“We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves, coming off the break, so I'm really going to be guided by her first couple of runs,” the Flemington trainer said regarding spring aims.

“I'd say her second-up run will be in the Makybe Diva Stakes, over a mile at Flemington (on 8 September) which is her favourite track, and we'll really start to make a few plans after the Makybe.

“I think her best distance is certainly 2400-plus, so we're hoping to get a grounding into her and get to her some of the nice staying races.”

O'Brien's other O'Reilly product with the ‘Sham' moniker will also be in action at Friday's jumpouts with Shamexpress to step up his AAMI Victoria Derby campaign.

The colt had three starts as a juvenile, starting with a home track win before a second to the classy Pronto Pronto and fifth placing in the Group 2 VRC Sires' Produce Stakes, but O'Brien has always believed he would make a top three-year-old.

“We didn't really even expect to see him on the track at a two-year-old, so we were really pleased that he was very competitive in all his runs,” O'Brien said.

“He's a horse that we bought in New Zealand for the Shamrocker guys with the idea of developing him into a staying horse and he certainly gives the impression that that's what he will become.

“The logical target for that sort of horse is the VRC Derby. He's in really good shape and that's the way we're heading with him.”

Shamexpress is likely to resume in the Group 3 McNeil Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on 1 September before undertaking a traditional Derby path via the 1600m Stutt Stakes and either the Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) or Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m).

Some of the other stable members O'Brien has Group 1 aspirations for this spring are classy mare Shopaholic, who may head to the Myer Classic for mares on Derby Day, and Listed winner Donna Cattiva, who is the Crown Oaks trail.

Story by Brad Bishop, to view full story on Racing Victoria website click here

Photo by Bruno Cannatelli, to view Bruno's website click here