Racing Victoria Blog - Part 2: Danny O'Brien

I was really pleased with Shamexpress last Friday and it was good of the VRC to let us use the course proper and gallop him down the straight. We asked him to stretch out the last 200 metres after holding him up early and he went really well.

He ran very quick sectionals for last 400 metres (21.73 seconds) which is pretty good and has pulled up very fit. He is ready to race.

Craig Newitt, who rode him last Friday was really pleased with the hit out and said if the race was on next week at Flemington he couldn’t see him being beaten. Obviously the unknown now is getting him over there and having him in the same shape to race in the Kings Stand.

Everything’s gone to plan so far, we’ve just got to get the travelling out of the way now and he’ll be ready to run on the 18th of June.

Shamexpress leaves the stable at 11pm and the plane will depart sometime after midnight. The horse will travel to Singapore, Dubai and then London, so the entire journey from stable to stable will take around 36 hours. Glamour Puss and Star Witness took a similar amount of time when they travelled from Melbourne to England so we’re familiar with this run.

We’ve travelled horses to Dubai, Hong Kong and England for a long time now so it’s pretty much the same routine in that you give them plenty of fluid before they leave, during and after the flight. Shamexpress for example, will have a drip this afternoon to keep his fluids up and we’ll make sure he gets plenty of fluids when he arrives so he doesn’t get dehydrated and is well.

When I campaigned Glamour Puss and Star Witness in England for Royal Ascot they both acclimatised well. It’s an easy destination to travel to because you’re going into a great environment.

Newmarket is very horse friendly and the whole town is set up to keep horses to happy. It’s pretty hard for a horse not to acclimatise and be in a good mood with life actually – as long as they handle the flight.

We’ll have him stabled at the same place we’ve stayed at previously; Abington Place and he’ll go out about 6.30-7am every morning which is a touch earlier than the locals. When you walk out the back door you’ve got any number of tracks and gallops to work on at the Heath which is great. We know our way around there pretty well so I’m sure the horse will settle in just fine.

There’ll be a few familiar faces I’ll no doubt see, especially those who have brought horses to the Melbourne before like Andrew Balding and Luca Cumani. I stayed with Andrew in 2006 when we took Glamour Puss over there. He’s a good guy and got a lovely property close to Ascot.

Steroid use has been a pretty hot topic in the UK recently and my view is that it’s best that Australia gets on board with the UK and Hong Kong and ban them completely. For what little use they offer here with horses going to the paddock and using them out-of-competition, it’s not going to be a game-changer if we ban them.

It will bring us into central lining with the other highly respected racing jurisdictions around the globe. It’s unfortunate if people, not being as informed as they should be, think that our horses are on steroids when they’re not, so I’d say the easiest thing to do is to change the rules. I think there are very few horses that are using them in a limited manner anyway. We’ll still be fine without them.

Shamexpress has never been treated with a hormone of any type. He's a big strong colt.

Wayne Hawkes metioned the need for more prizemoney to be allocated to maiden races today on RSN, however I think our biggest issue with prizemoney allocation is how much it is skewed towards the Melbourne Cup. I can’t understand the situation where the Melbourne Cup is worth $6 million and the Lightning Stakes, which is one of the highest-rating races in the world, is only $500,000.

To me the Lightning Stakes is a race that’s far more relevant for our breeding and I can’t see how there’s 10 times the difference in the prizemoney to the Cup, it just makes no sense. Unfortunately they cut the Lightning down from $750,000 to $500,000 to maintain the Melbourne Cup prizemoney at that level which I don’t agree with. Our general prizemomey levels in Victoria are in a good position, I’d just like to see it allocated differently.

I’ll be in the UK next week, so will give you an update on Shamexpress from Newmarket.



Blog appears courtesy of Racing Victoria