Shamus Award breaks maiden in Cox Plate

| October 27, 2013
Shamus Award ridden by Chad Schofield wins Cox Plate

Shamus Award ridden by Chad Schofield wins Cox Plate

Shamus Award picked Australia’s biggest Group One championship to register his first career win and he did it in spectacular style.

The Danny O’Brien-trained colt was originally an emergency for the $3 million race and only gained a start when race favourite Atlantic Jewel was scratched soon after the barrier draw.

Apprentice jockey Chad Schofield made all the running, taking advantage of the horse’s light weight of 49.5kg to lead all the way and win by a half-head from the fast-finishing Happy Trails.

WS Cox Plate 2,040m

1 SHAMUS AWARD $21 T: Danny O’Brien J: Chad Schofield
2 HAPPY TRAILS $12 T: Byron Cozamanis J: Dwayne Dunn
3 FIORENTE $8 T: Gai Waterhouse J: Blake Shinn

Margins: 1/2 hd x lng nk Time: 2:05.27

Last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Fiorente held on for third in a great trial for this year’s Cup after taking the race up to Shamus Award.

Schofield, the son of top Sydney jockey Glyn Schofield, became the first apprentice to win the Cox Plate since Brent Thompson aboard Fury’s Order in 1975.

It was also the first Group One win for the 19-year-old, something he was desperately keen to capture.

“I’ve been wanting to get a Group One really badly and what a way to do it in the Cox Plate,” he said.

Schofield didn’t have a ride in the Cox Plate until Shamus Award earned a start when Atlantic Jewel suffered a tendon injury and was subsequently retired.

He was grateful for the opportunity to ride the colt, who had run a fast-finishing third in the Caulfield Guineas.

I’ve been wanting to get a Group One really badly, and what a way to do it in the Cox Plate.

Cox Plate winning jockey Chad Schofield:

“He jumped really fast and I let him find the rail,” Schofield said of the race.

“I knew I had it when I shook off Fiorente and he was just so strong to the line.

“About 100m from the finish line I had a look around and saw Happy Trails flying so I wasn’t sure if we were going to hang on.”

It was the first Cox Plate triumph for trainer Danny O’Brien, who had set the horse for the race early in the spring.

He didn’t deserve to be a maiden: O’Brien

O’Brien remained confident going into the race despite the horse having yet to register a win in its previous nine starts.

“He certainly didn’t deserve to be a maiden,” O’Brien said.

Shamus Award was forced back in the Caulfield Guineas and flew home, but after drawing barrier three in the Cox Plate the plan was always to go forward.

“Today we got a chance to go out and make our own luck and show how good this colt is,” O’Brien said.

“He could have easily been a Guineas winner and a Cox Plate winner, but we’re pretty happy to take the Cox Plate.”

Race favourite It’s A Dundeel finished eighth after being trapped wide. Foreteller finished strongly to finish fourth.

Seville was the best of the three runners from the Lloyd Williams stable, finishing seventh.

Leading fancy Puissance De Lune (12th) pulled up lame, putting his Melbourne Cup campaign in jeopardy.

THE race that has everything went to a horse which had nothing when three-year-old Shamus Award made all the running to win the $3 million Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

Shamus Award, a colt whose place until today had been on racing’s lowest rung, won arguably Australia’s greatest race in taking the weight-for-age Cox Plate.

It doing so, he defied the country’s best horses and some of the world’s most powerful racing stables.

And he did it in the hands of teenage apprentice Chad Schofield, 19, who was suspended the night before the race and outrode some of the biggest names in the game.

Until last Tuesday, none but Shamus Award’s trainer Danny O’Brien and his owners had any notion their colt would even be in the race – and in the opinion of many, he shouldn’t have been. Shamus Award had never won a race before today.

In nine starts he had been placed seven times and was the first maiden in 20 years to even be accepted into what is generally regarded as an elite field.

But O’Brien watched as the number of likely acceptors dwindled on Tuesday morning and took a punt by paying up.

“The worst that could happen was they’d kick me out,” O’Brien said.

The Moonee Valley Racing Club committee voted to give Shamus Award half a chance, making him the first emergency.

Then came the scratching a couple of hours later of the nominal favourite Atlantic Jewel, and Shamus Award was in the 14-horse field that is meant to represent the cream of Australian thoroughbreds.

While Shamus Award went into the Cox Plate without a win, he had won $260,000 and was not the average maiden.

“He’s been a high-class colt . . . he was a maiden going into today because a few things hadn’t gone his way in the Guineas,” O’Brien said. “We certainly went in knowing he was in great order.

“He’d had the perfect preparation to go the 2000 metres. He had 49-1/2 [kilograms] on his back, and once he drew well we were always going to be aggressive. And Chad gave him a peach of a ride.”

It was a messy race in which the favourite It’s A Dundeel couldn’t get closer than three-wide throughout and one-time Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune floundered.

However, Shamus Award rolled along in front with Schofield gradually slipping him rein from the 1000m.
“He travelled beautifully, really sweetly,” Schofield said.

“Fiorente was outside him and we beat him off before the turn. At the 200 I thought I had it won.”

But on the line he thought he’d lost it as Happy Trails, a horse with a story to rival the winner’s, lunged at him.

Shamus Award ($21) hung on to score by a half head from Happy Trails ($12), whose trainer Paul Beshara was disqualified a week ago for treating the horse on a day last month on which he was due to race.

Fiorente ($8) ran a typically brave race to finish third, a long neck further back with the favourite It’s A Dundeel eighth.

Shamus Award, which increased its racetrack earnings by almost 800 per cent with a winner’s cheque of $1.8 million, will now rest until the autumn.

And he’ll return with his name on the most coveted honour roll in Australian racing, to be forever known as the first maiden to win the Cox Plate.

Meanwhile Melbourne Cup plans for one-time favourite Puissance de Lune are in doubt after he pulled up lame following his run in the Cox Plate.

The six-year-old entire endured a torrid run in the Moonee Valley classic and his trainer Darren Weir was lost for words after the race.

The big grey shared the running past the post the first time, only to fall back through the field to finish a disappointing 12th. “He just didn’t fire. I don’t know why,” Weir said.

He also isn’t sure whether the horse will run in the Melbourne Cup. “We’ll see how he pulls up, I guess. That’s all we can do,” Weir said. “We’ll see how the horse is tomorrow.”

Long John’s trainer Peter Snowden said the Caulfield Guineas winner had his grand final two weeks ago.

“He ran as well as he could. He probably failed to stay on the day, but that’s not to say he can’t stay later on,” Snowden said. Long John dead-heated for ninth.

But tonight is for the winners. Glyn Schofield said everything he had done in an international career as a jockey paled in comparison to watching his son Chad win the Cox Plate.

An excited Schofield led the cheering in the Rosehill jockeys’ room. “This is the best moment of my life,” Schofield said. “It is unbelievable. We spoke this morning and he had a plan and he rode it exactly as he said.

“What a ride. He had three different horses coming at him and putting pressure on him and he kept his cool.
“I am so proud of him and I want to thank Danny O’Brien for having the faith to put this kid on.

“I’m having a beer and then I’m going straight to the airport to get on a plane to Melbourne to celebrate.’

Just for the record, the elder Schofield rode a treble at Rosehill, something he had forgotten about by 5.45pm on Saturday.

Glyn Schofield could well be opposed to his son during Melbourne Cup week, but for now it is all about his boy.

 


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