Mark Kavanagh has no doubts Shrapnel is a Group One horse and punters seem to agree as the colt has been well supported to win the Galaxy at Randwick.
With stable stars Shocking and Whobegotyou ruled out of Sydney Carnival action, Shrapnel presents Melbourne-based Kavanagh with his sole chance at Group One success in Sydney this autumn in Saturday’s 1100m sprint.
Shrapnel was the subject of a betting plunge when he firmed from $12 to $5 before winning the Group Two Yallambee Classic (1200m) in Adelaide last start.
And punters have chimed in again with the three-year-old firming from $15 in TAB Sportsbet’s opening market on Wednesday to $8.50 on the eve of the event.
“We’ve taken him along pretty slowly and we threw him in the deep end in a Group One in the spring and he ran third behind Star Witness,” Kavanagh said.
“We believe this is a suitable race for him with no weight (51kg) on his back.
“This is the race we targeted with him.”
Shrapnel has been in Sydney for a week and Kavanagh is hopeful the colt can confirm a stud career by emulating his sire Charge Forward who won the Galaxy in 2005.
“He’s a Group One horse, there’s no doubt about that,” the Melbourne Cup-winning trainer said of Shrapnel.
“He’s very lightly raced, going into a Galaxy as a three-year-old at only his eighth start. He’s pretty inexperienced compared to the others, but he can run.”
Things didn’t go to plan in the Galaxy for Kavanagh 12 months ago when Definitely Ready started at $4.60 but hung out badly and finished eighth.
While running the Sydney way for the first time is always a query, Kavanagh expects Shrapnel to handle himself well.
“That’s certainly a concern but he has given us every indication that he’s going to be OK that way of going,” the trainer said.
Sportingbet Australia chief executive Michael Sullivan said Shrapnel had clearly been the best-backed runner in the Galaxy, with the colt shortening from $11 to $8 with the corporate bookmaking firm.
“He was very heavily backed when he won the Yallambee in Adelaide last start and punters have stuck with him,” Sullivan said.
The winner of three of his seven starts, Shrapnel will jump from barrier two with Corey Brown to ride.
Last-start Sebring Stakes winner Swift Alliance is favourite in his attempt to win at Group One level for the first time.