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Shamexpress could return to Royal Ascot if he performs up to expectations but trainer Danny O’Brien has ruled out an overseas trip for Shamus Award.

O’Brien confirmed the plan to back Shamus Award up in the Australian Cup at Flemington on Saturday, seven days after the colt added the Australian Guineas to his Cox Plate win.

Shamexpress, unplaced in two English starts last season, showed he was on track for a defence of the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on Saturday when second to Snitzerland in last month’s Group One Lightning Stakes.

“The big one for Shamus Award is to get back for the Cox Plate again. He won’t be going anywhere after Sydney,” O’Brien told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio.

“Shamexpress will be very hard to beat in the Newmarket.

“If he won that his next target would be the TJ Smith in Sydney.

“This will be his last season of racing. He will be at stud in the spring so I would not rule out Royal Ascot but first of all the Newmarket and the TJ Smith are his aims.”

The trainer said Shamus Award had come through the Guineas in good order and was ready to take on the older horses again as he did in the Cox Plate.

“He’s pulled up really well,” O’Brien said.

“He was a bit on the fresh side yesterday and the programming was always there to back up within the seven days.

“I can’t see any reason why he won’t be there next Saturday.

“Then he will go to Sydney for the Rosehill Guineas and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

“Two thousand metres is right in his sweet spot and the Rosehill Guineas is ideal to see how he goes the Sydney direction.”

Shamexpress is the third favourite for the Newmarket behind the Mick Price-trained pair Lankan Rupee and Samaready while Shamus Award has second billing in the Australian Cup behind Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente.

 
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