By Ray Hickson
Trainer Cody Morgan has been prepared to make excuses for Shamusu Sho in two runs this preparation but says Sunday’s Nutrien Ag Solutions Gilgandra Cup (1600m) looks tailor made for him.
The five-year-old steps into his comfort zone as he returns to the distance of his most impressive performance to date and Morgan is confident it will bring out his best.
While he was beaten at Moree over 1400m on December 19, Morgan was happy enough to see him run into third given the conditions on the day.
“I think he’s a horse that this preparation will get right out to 2000m,’’ he said.
“First-up he was okay then second-up I think it was just fitness on a heavy 10 with 59kg. He gets the limit (55kg) and up to his preferred trip it does look a nice race for him.
“It’s nearly D-Day, to be honest, the next couple of runs. He should be at his peak on Sunday and probably the next run as well.”
The Tamworth trainer has prepared Shamusu Sho in eight of his 11 starts and feels he has a good handle on where the gelding is at.
That’s why he’s eager to stretch him out in trip this year.
He says the tight Gilgandra track shouldn’t pose too much of an issue as he’s prepared to back Shamusu Sho’s superior turn of foot to get him out of any trouble.
“Drawing a gate is probably not a major issue because he normally doesn’t take advantage of it that well, you just have to ride him where he’s comfortable,’’ he said.
“He’s a horse that has a good turn of foot so if he is travelling and they start swooping out wide from the 600m he can go from being in a tricky position to rolling around them quickly.
“They are always hard to win but it doesn’t look an overly strong Cup so if he’s at his best he should be thereabouts.”
It’s highly unlikely, given Morgan’s comments, that Shamusu Sho will form part of his team aimed at qualifying for the 2021 Country Championships.
Morgan won the Hunter & North West Qualifier last year with Ligulate, who finished midfield in the $500,000 Final, and has at least five horses getting ready for the Qualifier at Tamworth on March 7.
They are ex-Godolphin galloper Wren’s Day, who like Ligulate was snapped up by Australian Bloodstock and will trial on Tuesday at Muswellbrook, plus Ronan’s Rock, Holy Command, Yulong Base and Somals.
“They are the ones at the moment that are at the top but I’m quite realistic, our heat and the South East heat are as a whole very deep races,’’ he said.
“But it is getting harder every year. You look at a horse like Pinnacle Prince, he looks like something doesn’t he, and Mother’s Mercy I’d imagine would head that way.
“We’ll have to be going well at the time to win our heat.”
Shamusu Sho runs third at Moree on December 19
He said his Kosciuszko runners Anethole and Ice In Vancouver aren’t being set for Country Championships with plans already advanced for the former to have a second shot at the $1.3m race in October.
Anethole was only beaten three lengths in running ninth behind It’s Me while Ice In Vancouver pulled up with cardiac arrhythmia after finishing last.
“I’m going to keep Anethole to 1200m, I really want to concentrate on getting him back to a Kosciuszko,’’ Morgan said.
“I have no doubt if he had drawn a gate he would have run third or fourth in the race, he had the second best last 600m behind the winner.
“It’s all about having their record looking good so we will keep him to the sprint trips.”