Shamus Award on track for Guineas


When a three-year-old takes on his elders first up in group 1 company and runs a respectably close third he might be expected to tighten in the market for a classic against his own age on March 1.

But not Shamus Award, who has drifted to as much as $11 from $7 for the Australian Guineas despite his run behind Moment Of Change in Saturday's Orr Stakes at Caulfield.

Perhaps for Cox Plate winners, even those whose success in the weight-for-age championship came as something of a surprise, expectations are a little higher.

Ridden by champion jockey Craig Williams, Shamus Award might have disappointed some by finishing behind another three-year-old, Eurozone.
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But his trainer, Danny O'Brien, believes he remains right on track for the Guineas at Flemington - the sort of race in which success would enhance his value as a stallion.

Until the son of Snitzel scores again at the highest level there will be critics who will regard his Cox Plate triumph - when he shouldered a featherweight and took advantage of an inside gate - as a one off.

O'Brien was bullish about Shamus Award's prospects leading into the Moonee Valley race and is optimistic that the best is yet to come with a horse who will be seen to greater advantage over further than the Orr's 1400 metres.

"We are very happy, the winner's obviously run right up to his best so take nothing away from him - he made all the running at a good tempo and we were flat out two and three lengths off him," he said.

"Shamus did all the chasing and Eurozone's got past him but we were entitled to hit the wall a bit first up. Inside the hundred he started to feel the pinch, but that will have him perfectly where we want him for the Australian Guineas in three weeks.

"That's certainly our biggest target, but we will assess everything after that. There's big races in Sydney."

O'Brien says his colt will improve over more distance.

"He's a mile [1600 metres], mile-and-a-quarter [2000 metres] horse, and we have run into a horse here who has run second in a Newmarket and a Lightning."

Story by Senior Age Sports Reporter Michael Lynch, to view story on-line click here

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

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