Allan Sharrock is hoping for a Group One victory to finish off an exciting three-year-old season for Shamus on Saturday.
The New Plymouth trainer turned down an opportunity to head to the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in favour of this Saturday’s Gr.1 Wellington Seamarket Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham after he finished third in the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa last month.
That race was Shamus’ first defeat in his five-race career to date, and Sharrock wasn’t disappointed with it.
“He’d won up to 1400m and I had to stretch him out to see if he was a genuine Derby chance. He came up short on a poor prep – 1400m to 2000m wasn’t ideal but he still raced very well.
“He didn’t lose anything in my mind with his effort that day but we decided to freshen and go back to a mile.”
Since Te Rapa, Sharrock has given Shamus an exhibition gallop between races at Otaki, with his new raceday rider Ryan Elliot aboard, and he worked strongly with stable companion Sinarahma on Tuesday morning
“I think he’s on target, and it seems a nice race for him to be honest,” Sharrock said.
“He’s won at Wellington before and I think the big roomy spaces will suit him down to the ground.”
Whatever the result, Sharrock said he won’t be tempted to run Shamus again this season, and he thinks he will be better as a four-year-old.
“I didn’t put him under a lot of pressure early so this will be his grand finale. This is the one we’ve set him for and let’s hope we can get a result,” he said.
“We haven’t really looked at a plan for next season yet, but from this side of the island I don’t really like pushing to Hawke’s Bay in spring unless they are like a Kawi. I think he’ll be given a good, lengthy spell and we’ll look at summer targets for him.”
The aforementioned Sinarahma is also seeking a black type victory for Sharrock on Saturday, in her case in the Gr.3 Wentwood Grange Cuddle Stakes (1600m).
“She will be hard to beat. Her form’s good. She won the Wairarapa Breeders’ Stakes very impressively and raced well in the Group One at Otaki, so back to fillies and mares company I think she’s very competitive,” he said.
Also lining up for Sharrock at Trentham will be the unbeaten filly London Point, who contests the 1400m special conditions maiden, and Justfixit Wuldya, who backs up from a sixth-place finish over 1600m at Trentham last week and should enjoy the increase in distance to 2200m in a Rating 65 race.
Sharrock produced another impressive winner at Trentham at the weekend in Tavattack, a 4 3/4-length winner in a Rating 65 1400m race.
He is likely to be seen next in a 74 1600m contest at Awapuni on April 2.
“He’s a talented horse who’s had no luck and he’ll go to a higher class next year,” Sharrock said.
“We’ll probably only give him a couple more runs this season and then he’ll be parked until next year, when you’ll probably see the finished product.”
Sharrock has once again had an excellent season. He’s in eighth place on the New Zealand trainers’ premiership with 27 victories, those coming from just 119 starters. His strike rate of 4.41 is easily the best in the country for anyone who’s produced more than 50 starters.
One of his good contributors has been Alhambra Lad, a winner of three of his seven starts this season, but there is a good chance his racing future will be across the Tasman.
“He’s a talented horse and there’s obviously more money abroad and there’s some people courting us for him to race over there,” Sharrock said. “There’s nothing firm yet but that’s probably where he’ll end up.”
Meanwhile, Sharrock’s good mare Our Hail Mary has returned to the track after taking a couple of weeks off following her uncharacteristic failure in the Gr.2 Avondale Cup (2400m) on February 19.
“We found some issues with her back. She’s had two weeks off, she had her first gallop back this morning,” he said.
“She’ll probably run on the second day at Awapuni in an open mile with a view to having a go at a couple of autumn targets.
“She’ll go to stud next season I’d say. She’s done a good job, she’s won two group races and she hasn’t got a lot to prove.”