Leading international hoop Mickael Barzalona will ride Australian sprinter Shamexpress in the Group 1 July Cup (1207m) at Newmarket Racecourse in England on Saturday.
Regular jockey Craig Newitt partnered Shamexpress in the King’s Stand Stakes (1006m) during the Royal Ascot Festival but declined the opportunity to return to Great Britain, leaving trainer Danny O’Brien to choose between several of Europe’s top jockeys.
Richard Hughes was expected to pick up the ride but O’Brien announced this morning that the Godolpin stable rider would take the mount.
“We’ve got Mickael Barzalona to ride him,” O’Brien said.
“He’s going to come and have a sit on the horse on the July course tomorrow, and we’re very pleased to have him.”
Shamexpress finished a disappointing ninth in the King’s Stand Stakes but according to trackwork rider Paul Koumis has improved since his international racing debut and will relish the longer trip of the July Cup.
“He has come on from Royal Ascot,” Koumis said.
“I think the 1000 metre trip takes him out of the comfort zone and six furlongs (1207m) will suit him better.”
Koumis was impressed with how the O’Reilly colt handled the Newmarket July Cup course, which can be very difficult for first-time runners.
“He worked terrific and I’m very pleased with him,” Koumis said.
“He handled the track really well and had no problem with the undulations.”
The July Cup is set to be an international affair with South African sprinter Shea Shea, who finished second in the King’s Stand Stakes, and American contender Havelock also in the field.
Shamexpress is aiming to join Starspangledbanner as the only Australian-bred horse to win the July Cup.