2013 Cox Plate winner Shamus Award has returned to light trackwork and trainer Danny O’Brien could not be happier with the condition of the classy colt.
Shamus Award stunned Australian racing by breaking his maiden with a start-to-finish victory in the Cox Plate and O’Brien is confident that the son of Snitzel can add further Group 1 win’s to his racing resume; with the Australian Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on March 1 the major target for the three-year-old.
O’Brien told Racing Victoria that Shamus Award had returned to work at his Barwon Heads property and has already made good progress ahead of his return to full-time training at Flemington in the New Year.
“He’s loving life,” O’Brien said.
“He’s been doing a bit down at Thirteenth Beach and he looks great.
“He’ll stay out at Barwon Heads until just after Christmas and then he’ll come back here and he’ll be getting ready for the autumn.
“The Australian Guineas would be his main target for the autumn and he’ll probably have one or two runs leading into it.”
The merit of including a maiden in the field for the Australasian-Weight-For-Age Championship was heavily debated in the lead-up to the Group 1 event but Shamus Award was unlucky not to have already recorded a couple of wins during the 2013 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Shamus Award started his preparation with an unlucky second place finish behind Cauthen in the Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley and produced an uncharacteristically poor performance when finishing seventh in the Listed Henry Bucks Best Dressed Stakes (1400m) at Flemington.
He returned to his best form with an unlucky second place finish behind Divine Calling in the Group 2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley and produced another impressive run with a third place finish in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
Shamus Award was originally the first emergency for the Cox Plate but he earned a run following the withdrawal of glamour mare Atlantic Jewel and took advantage of his opportunity; leading all the way to hold off a fast-finishing Happy Trails and a game Fiorente.
No Cox Plate winner has ever gone on to win the Australian Guineas; with Savabeel finishing seventh in the 2005 edition of the race after winning the Cox Plate during the 2004 Spring Racing Carnival.