Express starts path to Derby


The path to the Victoria Derby will start on Saturday for Shamexpress who resumes in the Group Three McNeil Stakes at Caulfield.

Raced in similar interests to his recently retired stablemate Shamrocker, the Danny O'Brien-trained Shamexpress has a staying pedigree being by O'Reilly out of a Volksraad mare.

It was some surprise then to see him not only race at two, but win his 1200m debut at Flemington by four lengths.

His only other two runs as a youngster yielded a second to Pronto Pronto at Sandown and a fifth behind All Too Hard in the Group 2 Sires' Produce Stakes at Flemington in March.

"He was ahead of schedule to get those runs in as a two-year-old," O'Brien said.

"We bought him in New Zealand hopefully to have a nice staying three-year-old and older horse so it was nice to see him perform at two.

"We're hoping he gets all the way to the Derby this spring."

O'Brien has enjoyed great success with the progeny of New Zealand stallion O'Reilly.

Among them have been 2007 Caulfield Cup winner Master O'Reilly, 2009 Makybe Diva Stakes victor Vigor and dual Group One winner Shamrocker.

Shamrocker finished seventh in the 2010 running of the McNeil before going on to finish second to Brazilian Pulse in that year's Victorian Oaks.

The following autumn, Shamrocker won the Australian Guineas and Derby and finished second in the Oaks.

Given O'Brien is readying Shamexpress for the 2500m of the Derby in November, the colt is likely to find some of his McNeil rivals too sharp on Saturday.

But the Flemington trainer is buoyant about the manner in which he has returned to work.

"He's in great shape and he's matured into a lovely colt," O'Brien said.

"He's had two (unofficial) trials so he's fairly forward but it's probably a bit short for him on Saturday."

Craig Williams has the ride.

Story by AAP, to view story on Racing and Sports website click here 

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

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