European Assault


Star sprinter Shamexpress does everything at a fast pace. When he races he sizzles. When he track gallops he goes all-out.

But it is the relaxed environment of trainer Danny O'Brien's Barwon Heads facility that has been used as the launching pad for his European assault.

Shamexpress joined O'Brien's Flemington stables this week after spending two months in the paddock.

The Barwon Heads complex has done the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap-winning three-year-old the world of good, O'Brien believes.

"He has been down there for a good spell. It is a good freshen up," O'Brien said.

"He has come back to us in good shape and he should get to England in good shape. The environment we have at Barwon Heads is not dissimilar to Newmarket (where O'Brien will be based).

"There are wide open spaces and plenty of green grass. He will be a happy horse once he gets the flight out of the way."

O'Brien said Shamexpress would have a barrier trial at the end of May before boarding a plane on June 5.

The stable has pencilled in a plan for three races in Shamexpress' European campaign.

It starts with the Group 1 King's Stand on June 18 and other potential races include July Cup and The Nunthorpe Stakes.

"He may stay there through the English summer," O'Brien said.

"It will be a similar sort of program to Ortensia."

Australian horses have proven hard to beat in the King's Stand, with Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and Scenic Blast all winning down the famous Ascot straight.

O'Brien, who confirmed jockey Craig Newitt would take the ride on Shamexpress, said the European style of racing would suit his galloper.

"There is always good pressure on in the races there," O'Brien said.

"In the Newmarket win (at Flemington) we rode him quiet and he responded well to that, so we will be doing the same there."

O'Brien has travelled down the European path before, taking Blue Diamond-winner Star Witness to England for three races in 2011.

He came home without a win, but this time it is different. There is no rush.

"Star Witness ran twice at Ascot. He was always having to come back because he was starting his stud duties," O'Brien said.

"We didn't have the option there to keep him over long. But Shamexpress won't be starting stud duties this year."

Story by Ryan Reynolds and Photo by Mitch Bear and appear courtesy of the Geelong Advertiser 

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