A return trip to England for Royal Ascot hasn’t been ruled out for Shamexpress as trainer Danny O’Brien predicts the sprinter will be back to his best in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
tzerland in the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 15 and O’Brien has the four year old primed to win back to back Newmarket Handicaps.
“Shamexpress will be very hard to beat in the Newmarket,” O’Brien told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio.
“If he won that his next target would be the TJ Smith in Sydney.
“This will be his last season of racing. He will be at stud in the spring so I would not rule out Royal Ascot but first of all the Newmarket and the TJ Smith are his aims.”
Shamexpress scrapped home in last year’s Newmarket Handicap from the Peter Moody trained Moment Of Change who will be meeting him again on Saturday.
Moment Of Change is racing in the best form of his career and has won back to back weight for age Group 1s at Caulfield leading all of the way in the $400,000 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 8 and the $500,000 Cathay Pacific Futurity Stakes (1400m) February 22.
O’Brien will head to Sydney with Shamexpress after Flemington and his performance in the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on the first day of ‘The Championships’ on April 12 will determined if another trip to Royal Ascot is warranted.
Shamexpress headed over to England after last year’s Newmarket Handicap but returned home without figuring in the finish from two starts.
A mid field finish behind Sole Power in the Group 1 £350,000 The King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 18 was followed by a seventh of thirteen to Lethal Force in the Group 1 £500,000 Darley July Cup (6 furlong) at Newmarket on July 13.
Saturday’s Newmarket Handicap is shaping as another great spectacle up the Flemington straight and as well as Shamexpress and Moment Of Change stepping out, Oakleigh Plate winner Lankan Rupee and Group 1 winning stablemate Samaready are also ready to explode along with the improving Knoydart.
Lankan Rupee showed that he has emerged as one the country’s top sprinters with an explosive win in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 22 beating Spirt Of Boom And Knoydart.
And Samaready showed that she is back to her best making up many lengths over the concluding stages when third behind Snitzerland and Shamexpress in the Black Caviar Lightning.
Lankan Rupee currently heads the Ladbrokes.com.au Newmarket Handicap market order at $3.80 ahead of Samaready at $5 and Shamexpress at $5.50.
Oakleigh Plate placegetter Knoydart is next in the betting at $7 just shading Moment Of Change at $7.50.