Talented colt Shamus Award is set to start his 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing campaign in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8.
Trainer Danny O’Brien revealed at the end of last year that the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) was the main goal for Shamus Award during his autumn campaign, but confirmed that he will give the son of Snitzel his first race start, since his memorable victory in the 2013 Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), at weight-for-age level in the Orr Stakes.
“His first target is obviously the Guineas; he’s a colt and the Guineas is a very important race for him,” O’Brien told Racing Victoria.
“He’s a pretty clean-winded colt and at this stage he’ll only have the one lead-up run in the Orr.
“There’s a chance that we could give him another run if we need to in the Futurity Stakes a week before the Guineas.”
The Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 8, a week after the Australian Guineas, is also on the agenda for Shamus Award and the three-year-old could have the opportunity to become the first horse since Northerly in 2003 to win the Australian Cup in the autumn after taking out the Cox Plate in the spring.
Shamus Award has performed consistently throughout his racing career, which began with a third place finish in the Inglis Banner Stakes (1000m) during the 2012 Spring Racing Carnival, but before his Cox Plate triumph he had been unable to record a race win.
The colt started his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a second place finish in the Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on August 24 before producing the worst performance of his career in the Listed Henry Bucks Best Dressed Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on September 7.
He finished an unlucky second in the Group 2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 27 and raced home strongly to finish third in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 12.
Shamus Award looked as though he would miss the Cox Plate, but received a start in the field following the scratching of glamour mare Atlantic Jewel and apprentice jockey Chad Schofield steered the colt to victory in the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship.
Schofield may have a perfect record on Shamus Award, but experienced jockey Craig Williams has been booked to partner the valuable stallion prospect during his autumn campaign.