Jockey Michael Dee’s assessment of Shillelagh will be put to the test when the Group One-winning mare steps up to 1600 metres for the first time this campaign in the Matron Stakes at the scene of her biggest win.
Shillelagh won the Group One Cantala Stakes over the 1600m at Flemington during last year’s spring carnival with Dee aboard.
The six-year-old, who is stabled at Flemington, has finished unplaced in her two starts this campaign but both have been over 1400m in weight-for-age Group One races at Caulfield.
Dee’s comment after Shillelagh’s last-start seventh in the Futurity could be telling heading into Saturday’s Matron.
“She’s just crying out for the mile,” Dee said.
Being a Group One winner, Shillelagh has top weight of 58.5kg under the set weights plus penalties conditions on Saturday but she is dropping in class in the Group Three race against her own sex.
“She hasn’t had any luck in the two races she’s had so far this preparation, both have been Group Ones,” trainer Chris Waller said in his weekly online stable update.
“She drops to a Group Three on Saturday over the 1600 metre distance at Flemington which is of course where she won her Group One back in the spring.”
Waller is also hoping the step up to 1600m and a better barrier draw of four will prove beneficial for the classy mare who was on the third line of betting at $4.40 on Thursday.
“It’s a set weights and penalties so she’s not too badly in under that scale but she does still have to carry a big weight,” Waller said.