Shiraz will have his next race start in the 2015 Bobbie Lewis Quality after he scored a fighting victory in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Shiraz jumped out of the gates fairly in Aurie’s Star Handicap and he was settled just behind the leader Decircles by jockey Damien Oliver in the early stages of the race.
The Zariz gelding tracked into the race nicely and he was taken forward to challenge for the lead at the 400 metre mark, but he looked like a sitting duck at the 250 metre mark when Play Master, Pago Rock and Nadeem Lass all loomed on the outside.
Play Master and Shiraz pulled clear from their rivals to fight out the finish with 125 metres left to run and Play Master looked as though he was going to record his second straight victory, but Shiraz fought back in the shadows of the post to score a very narrow victory.
Oliver admitted after the race that Play Master looked as though he was going to run past Shiraz in the final stages of the Aurie’s Star Handicap, but he was thrilled with the toughness that the six-year-old showed when he was challenged.
“The second horse really came at us inside the furlong but he was able to dig deep and hold him off,” Oliver said.
“He began brilliantly, I haven’t ridden one so quick out of the gates for a while.
“The idea was to try and get him in behind and get him covered up for as long as we could and I was able to do that.”
Trainer Tony McEvoy was represented by foreman Barry Wintle at Flemington on Saturday and Wintle clearly has a soft spot for Shiraz, who has now recorded five wins from eight race starts since he joined the McEvoy stable.
Wintle confirmed that Shiraz would have his next race start in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on September 12 after he showed he was capable of handling the famous Flemington straight.
“He’s not the greatest specimen going around but we love him,” Wintle said
“As soon as he comes out of the box he’s going somewhere.
“I wish every horse we train had a will to win like he did.”
Two-time Group 1 winner Trust In A Gust was never able to get into the race and he finished a disappointing seventh.