Trainer Chris Waller will step his Group 1 winning mare Shillelagh up to the 2000m for the first time when she take on the weight for age performers in the Group 1 $2m Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.
Shillelagh showed her liking for the spacious Flemington track when she scored her second Group 1 win there over 1600m last Saturday against the mares in the Group 1 $500,000 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m).
Twelve months ago Shillelagh beat all comers under handicap conditions in the Group 1 $1m Kennedy Mile (1600m) and Waller thinks it is the right time to test the seven year old mare over the 2000m.
“Clearly she loves Flemington, this is her first time over 2000m but the family that she is from would suggest that it won’t be any issue and being well into her preparation it is the right time to be trying her,” Waller said.
“I am quietly confident that she will be hard to beat.”
Shillelagh has drawn barrier six in the ten horse Mackinnon Stakes field and will be ridden again by James McDonald who brought the mare from near the tail of the field to score a one and a quarter lengths victory in the Empire Rose Stakes.
Waller is not concerned that Shillelagh is backing up week to week and is confident that McDonald will give the mare another first class ride.
“She backs up from last Saturday where she was an impressive winner and that was against the girls at weight for age,’ Waller said.
“Barrier six shouldn’t pose a problem to her and hopefully she gets an economical run but she shouldn’t have to get as far back as she does over the shorter distances and that might make things a little easier for her.”
Betting for the Mackinnon Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au has Shillelagh marked at $7.50 behind the odds on $1.95 favourite Blair House and Latrobe at $5.