Even though Cox Plate winner Shamus Award has only had one run leading into the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday, trainer Danny O’Brien is happy with the three year old’s form.
Shamus Award had his first start since leading all of the way to win the last year’s Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in October when third to Moment Of Change in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8.
Australian Guineas rival, the Bart and James Cummings trained Eurozone, split that pair in the Orr Stakes and O’Brien said that the weight for age form was made to look stronger after Moment Of Change came out and won again in the Group 1 $500,000 Cathay Pacific Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield last Saturday.
“I’m not a form analyst, but I would suspect that the Orr Stakes would be the strongest race of the lead up races,” O’Brien said from the launch of Flemington’s early autumn carnival.
“It was weight-for-age against Moment of Change, who’s racing as well as anything in Melbourne at the moment.
“I think both the colts’ runs were full of merit in the Orr and no doubt it was the highest-pressure 1400 race that they’ve run so far this autumn.
“I expect it will stand them in good stead when they come back for the Guineas against their own age.”
O’Brien gave Shamus Award a solid workout over 1400m in between races at Moonee Valley last Friday night and said that the colt is ready to run a solid 1600m in the Australian Guineas.
“The main thing is he’s really well. He pulled up out of his Orr run really well, he worked strongly on Friday night at Moonee Valley and he gets out to 1600 metres, which is a fair more suitable distance,” O’Brien said.
The Flemington trainer is still undecided if the Snitzel colt will run in the Group 1 $1m Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday week and will wait to see how he runs before committing to a seven day back up.
Top Melbourne jockey Craig Williams will stick with Shamus Award after riding the Cox Plate winner in his first up run in the C.F. Orr Stakes.
Adelaide three year old Hucklebuck heads the Australian Guineas market order at $3.70 ahead of Eurozone at $4.60 with Shamus Award at $7, The Quarterback at $9 and Thunder Fantasy at $12.