A very impressive Australian debut win in the Group 2 $220,000 Sportingbet Herbert Power (2400m) at Caulfield last Saturday by Shahwardi has earned the French stayer a 1.5kg penalty for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 6.
The penalty lifts Shahwardi to 53kg and elevates the Alain de Royer Dupretrained galloper from 42nd in order of entry to 32nd and increases his chances greatly of making the final field of twenty-four in the 3200m Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup.
Even though Shahwardi’s Herbert Power last to first win gave him a free path into Saturday’s Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield with a penalty free ballet exemption, de Royer Dupre looks likely to bypass Caulfield and head straight to Flemington.
Shahwardi’s extra 1.5kg matched the penalties handed out to recent Herbert Power winners, Shewan (2011), Alcopop (2009) and Master O’Reilly (2007) and Racing Victoria General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter said that Saturday’s win was worthy of the penalty.
“Shahwardi was enormously impressive winning the Herbert Power when coming from the rear, circling the field and scoring a decisive victory,” Carpenter said.
“The win was his first since 2009 but the horse has been in good form in Europe this year and was placed behind Tac De Boistron in the Group 2 Maurice de Nieuil in July and third to Joshua Tree and Brigantin in the Group 2 Prix de Kergorlay in August with both races run at level weights.”
“The 1.5kg penalty given to Shahwardi is the same penalty given to recent Herbert Power winners Shewan (2011), Alcopop (2009) and Master O’Reilly (2007).”
The French trained stayer created a huge impression coming from last at the 800m to finish strongly down the middle of the track to score a comfortable win over Excluded and Exceptionally in the Herbert Power.
The seven year old was having his first start in Australia and his first since finishing third to Joshua Tree in the Group 2 €130,000 Darley Prix Kergorlay (1mile, 7 furlongs) at Deauville, France on August 19.
The Marco Botti trained Joshua Tree made the form look first class by winning the Group 1 US$1.5m Pattison Canadian International Stakes (1 mile, 4 furlongs) at Woodbine, Canada on Sunday.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy was quite taken with the winning effort of Shahwardi after timing the gelding’s run to the second in overpowering the leaders close to the line and is keen for his chances in the Melbourne Cup although no jockey has been engaged at this stage for Flemington.
“If he stays two mile he is going to be chance in the Melbourne Cup,” McEvoy said.
McEvoy is stable rider for Darley in Australia and when the huge international racing operation didn’t have a runner in the Herbert Power, he was keen to take up the opportunity to ride the overseas stayer.
“Darley didn’t have a horse in the race, it was an opportunity to get on a stayer coming over here trained by Alain and his team,” McEvoy said.
“It all fell into place, it was good win by the horse. There was a bit of action early, a bit of pace, that was the plan just to ride to be last off the bridle, he enjoyed it. He travelled over here great, travelled sweetly during the run.”
Stable representative Joe Murray said that Shahwardi was on a Melbourne Cup mission but a start in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield next week was unlikely.
“It was a great run. The trainers prepared it beautifully. It’s only been here a few weeks and to perform like that is amazing,” Murray said.
“Tony, whose the owner of it, he really wants to aim for the Melbourne Cup, he’s had a bit of bad luck with another horse and is hoping this one does well for him.”
Even though Shahwardi is unlikely to start in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup, he is still a $17 chance in the market and he is at the same quote in the Melbourne Cup.