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Leading Cox Plate contender Te Akau Shark is progressing well in his New Zealand stable as he is prepared for his Australian campaign.

He will be aimed at the Epsom Handicap on October 5, the day before the NRL grand final which may or may not be a cause for celebration for his part-owner, Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen, with his team currently seventh on the ladder.

Another of his owners, Te Akau Stud principal David Ellis, said the four-year-old was in fine shape after his last campaign ended when he showed signs of general soreness.

“We gave him a long spell through the summer and autumn,” Ellis told Sky Sports Radio.

“He had his first bit of three-quarter pace last Saturday morning and (trainer) Jamie Richards is really happy with the way he is coming to hand.

“I think he has just matured and strengthened a little bit. I was over at the stable in Matamata on Monday and he certainly is a very happy horse and is hitting out pretty freely, which is the most important thing with him.”

“We would love to win a race like the Epsom on the way to the Cox Plate,” Ellis said.

“I think he would be really well weighted in an Epsom Handicap. We would probably give him two runs before the Epsom and then straight from the Epsom into the Cox Plate.”

Te Akau Shark is a $15 Epsom chance with the TAB and on the fourth line of betting at $11 for the Cox Plate on October 26 behind Mystic Journey ($4), Avilius ($6) and Almond Eye ($8).

The gelding has won five of his six starts from 1100m to 1600m.

 
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