Internationally acclaimed jockey Mikael Barzelona had his first ride on Shamexpress yesterday and was delighted with the condition of the Australian sprinter as he prepares for the July Cup (1207m) at Newmarket this Saturday.
Barzelona was only announced as Shamexpress’s July Cup rider yesterday but trainer Danny O’Brien said the Godolphin stable jockey was very impressed after riding the colt for the first time this morning.
“He said he was really pleased with him and he gave him a terrific feel,” O’Brien told News Limited.
“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 handled the track perfectly in track work but you won’t know for sure until Saturday whether he can handle it.”
O’Brien said the change of jockeys, from Ryan Moore to Richard Hughes to Barzelona, had not been a distraction and was happy to have a local jockey on board.
“I’m really pleased to get Mikael on as he’s a super young rider,” the Victorian trainer said.
“We wanted a rider which knows the track and that’s why we elected not to fly Craig (Newitt) back over.”
The July Cup is a very tough assignment for Shamexpress with the winners of the King’s Stand Stakes (Sole Power) and Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Lethal Force), as well as quality South African sprinter Shea Shea, set to take part.
However, O’Brien is confident the 2013 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) winner will relish the step back up to 1200m and produce an improved performance from his ninth place finish in the King’s Stand Stakes (1006m).
“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,” O’Brien said.
“Hopefully he’ll find something as he did then when we stepped him out to 1200m.”