Star three-year-old Shamus Award appears unlikely to get things his own way in what looms as an intriguing Australian Cup at Flemington on Saturday.
Rated a superior front-runner after all-the-way wins in the Cox Plate and the Australian Guineas, Shamus Award is certain to have company at the front of the field in the weight-for-age race.
The 2012 Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon and his Sydney Cup-winning stablemate Mourayan from Lloyd Williams’s Macedon Lodge have already been identified as horses willing to share on-pace duties with Shamus Award.
They have figured in early stewards notes on the race with Green Moon to be ridden in “a positive position” while the intent with Mourayan is to be positive and “be forward or lead”.
The Australian Cup has been billed as a clash between last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, the $2.05 favourite, and Shamus Award ($4.40).
But jockey Steven Arnold is hoping the eight-year-old Mourayan can reproduce his first-up run when he almost beat Fiorente in the Peter Young Stakes.
“That would be one of his best runs at weight-for-age at that level. I’m happy to be riding him and if he can run as good as he did the other day, he won’t be far away,” Arnold said.
Trainer Nigel Blackiston saddles up outsider Let’s Make Adeal but is banking on improvement from the mare on her home track to give her a chance of an upset.
The four-year-old failed to figure first-up in the Peter Young at Caulfield.
Let’s Make Adeal has placed twice at Flemington and was fourth in the Group One Makybe Diva Stakes last spring at her other start at the track.
“She has come along since that first-up run and I reckon back at Flemington you’ll see a four or five-length improvement,” Blackiston said.
He hopes that can be enough to challenge the favourites but concedes the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente is the horse to beat.
“His win was very good and if he improves even more he’ll be even harder to beat. But he was pretty tuned up to win first-up,” Blackiston said.
Let’s Make Adeal, who is heading towards The BMW and Sydney Cup, is a grand-daughter of 1992 Australian Cup winner Let’s Elope.