The 2013 Cox Plate field will feature a maiden for the first time since Oxberry Way finished behind Red Anchor in the 1984 edition of the race but trainer Danny O’Brien does not believe that Shamus Award will just be making up the numbers in the field.
O’Brien told Racing Ahead that the plan has always been for Shamus Award to take part in the Cox Plate, depending on how he performed in the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m), and believed that he raced well enough in those races to be worthy of a place in the Cox Plate field.
“At the start of his campaign we always hoped that he would progress to the Cox Plate,” O’Brien said.
“Obviously his two mile runs in the Stutt Stakes and the Caulfield Guineas would determine whether or not we got there and in both of them we just had a little bit go against us.
“In the Stutt we ran second without much luck and the barrier draw probably cost us in the Guineas.
“On the back of the Guineas I wasn’t convinced that he would get a start and I was resigned to running in the Vase but obviously when we have accepted the field came up and fifteen and we were lucky enough to be emergency and naturally enough one came out.
“We are hoping that his luck is starting to change.”
Shamus Award started from barrier eleven in the Caulfield Guineas and had no luck from the gate but O’Brien is confident that the Snitzel colt will receive a lovely run into the Cox Plate from barrier three at Moonee Valley this Saturday.
“He is a natural go-forward horse but he drew out in the Caulfield Guineas and just got posted and ended up drifting back,” O’Brien said.
“From an inside draw he will certainly be taking a much more forward position there on Saturday.
“In every start he has been handy, apart from last, and I would expect that he would put himself there.
“The Cox Plate always throws up surprises where everybody settles but I would certainly be hoping our guy is in the first four.”
Jockey Chad Schofield will be making his debut in the Cox Plate field this weekend and although he is yet to win at the highest level of racing already has some experience in big races.
O’Brien said that he is delighted to have Schofield on board and clearly has a big opinion of the promising youngster.
“He has been in and galloped him and he was very happy with him,” O’Brien said.
“We are happy that Chad in particular can ride the 49.5kg no stress and you don’t get to be David Hayes’ main rider unless you are doing plenty right.”
Shamus Award will be O’Brien’s third runner in the Cox Plate after Shamrocker (2011) and Master O’Reilly (2008) both missed the placings.