Trainer Danny O’Brien has confirmed that Shamexpress will return to the races in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 15 before attempting to defend his title in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at the same venue on March 8.
Shamexpress had just two starts during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival and was sent to the spelling paddock following his fast-finishing second behind Buffering in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 9.
The O’Reilly entire returned to O’Brien’s Flemington stable at the start of this week and the leading Melbourne trainer revealed that the four-year-old will trial on Friday before making his return to racing in just over three weeks’ time.
“He has been down at Barwon Heads over the summer and has come back this week,” O’Brien told RSN this morning.
“He trials on Friday and he will be first-up the Lightning which is on the 15th of February.
“His major targets will be the two big sprints down the straight; he will run in the Newmarket Handicap three weeks after the Lightning.
“He is very effective at Flemington.”
Shamexpress recorded his maiden win at Group 1 level in the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) during the 2013 Melbourne Festival Of Racing and was then taken to England for the 2013 Royal Ascot Meeting; finishing ninth in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1005m) and seventh in the Group 1 July Cup (1207m).
O’Brien has not ruled out another overseas tilt for Shamexpress, but said that the star sprinter was more likely to remain in Australia for a crack at the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m), which will be held at Royal Randwick as part of The Championships on April 12.
“We will just see how things line up,” O’Brien said.
“Obviously, there is a $2.5 million race at Randwick now and that is going to prove very hard to resist.”
Shamexpress has a stellar record down the famous Flemington straight and has recorded two wins, as well as two placings at Group 1 level, at his home track.
The classy entire will have the opportunity to join Razor Sharp (1982 and 1983), Correct (1960 and 1961), Gothic (1927 and 1928) and Aspen (1880 and 1881) as the only horses that have won the Newmarket Handicap in back-to-back years.