Trainer Chris Waller is hoping for an improving Randwick track to give Shillelagh every chance to produce her best in the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) on Day One of The Championships on Saturday.
Sydney has been through its usual wet Autumn and Randwick could be the first track in a month that hasn’t got the Heavy sign semaphored.
The Randwick track was rated a Soft 6 on Thursday morning and with only a few showers forecast in the lead up to the weekend and a sunny day predicted for Saturday, the track rating could stay in the Soft range or even better.
Shillelagh has a zero from four record on a Heavy track but has two wins and a second from seven attempts on a Soft rated track and Waller is hoping it stays that way at start time for the Doncaster Mile.
“Her form would suggest that she is nowhere near as effective on heavy going,” Waller said.
“We are hoping it gets back to the better side of soft and if that is the case she can bounce back to form.”
Shillelagh produced her best run this preparation two starts back when second to Harlem by a nose on a Good 3 rated Flemington track in the Group 1 $1.5m Australian Cup (2000m) on March 9 but then struggled on a Heavy Rosehill surface when tenth to Avilius in the Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 23.
“Her run in the Australian Cup was certainly a very good performance and her run in the Ranvet was well below her best on the heavy track,” Waller said.
Waller is hoping that Craig Williams will take advantage of Shillelagh’s number three barrier and have her nicely placed mid-race before winding her up for her final assault at the business end.
“She has a lovely draw and Craig Williams now knows her well having ridden her in her previous two starts,” Waller said.
“I am hoping she can begin well and utilise her good gate so that she can come with a good, strong finish over the concluding stages carrying a nice, light weight of 53kg.”
Shillelagh is at the healthy odds of $18 for the Doncaster Mile at Ladbrokes.com.au while the Team Hawkes trained three year old Brutal heads the betting at $5.50.
Waller will also saddle up Unforgotten ($14), I Am Serious ($21) and Life Less Ordinary ($51).