O'Brien: Shamexpress can emulate Newmarket success in July Cup

Danny O'’Brien knows Shamexpress faces a tough task in the July Cup on Saturday night, but only has to look at his Newmarket Handicap win two starts ago to know he can succeed.

O’Brien is hoping the three-year-old colt can take a similar leap as he did in the Melbourne autumn when he won at Flemington.

“He stepped up from 1000m to 1200m from the Lightning to the Newmarket and it’s the same again on Saturday from the King’s Stand to the July Cup. Hopefully he’ll find something as he did then when we stepped him out to 1200m,” O’Brien said.

Shamexpress finished sixth in the Lightning Stakes before the Newmarket win and he finished ninth in the King’s Stand Stakes, beaten only four-and-a-half lengths.

“It’s going to be a hard race as the first two from the King’s Stand and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes are in it,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien was referring to Sole Power and Shea Shea, who finished first and second on the King’s Stand, and Lethal Force and Society Rock, who quinealled the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Speaking just after watching Shamexpress work yesterday morning at Newmarket, O’Brien was pleased with how Shamexpress handled the undulations of the tricky track.

“That was his second bit of work at the track and he worked on the July Cup course. He ran a leisurely 1000m before quickening up over the last 400m,” he said.

Shamexpress was ridden for the first time by Mickael Barzalona, who will ride him on Saturday.

“He said he was really pleased with him and he gave him a terrific feel,” he said.

“He handled the track perfectly in track work but you won’t know for sure until Saturday whether he can handle it.”

O’Brien said there had been some shuffling around with jockeys as Richard Hughes and Ryan Moore were at one stage being booked to ride Shamexpress, but he was more than happy to secure the services of Barzalona.

“With their commitments to major stables it was always going to be a moving target,” he said.

“I’m really pleased to get Mikael on as he’s a super young rider. He’s just replaced Frankie Dettori as Godolphin’s main rider which tells you how talented he is.”

“We wanted a rider which knows the track and that’s why we elected not to fly Craig (Newitt) back over.”

O’Brien is hoping Shamexpress can get a bit of cover in the July Cup and come with one late run.

Shamexpress is $10 with TAB to win the July Cup.

Story by Michael Manley, to view Herald Sun Racing story click here

Photo appears courtesy of Racing Victoria Limited