By Ray Hickson
Blake Shinn says his Epsom Handicap mount will become a lot clearer after he partners three contenders in separate lead up races in the next two days.
The champion jockey has a huge opinion of Sound Proposition, top weight in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle on Friday.
Then at Randwick on Saturday he rides Epsom second favourite Happy Clapper in the Group 1 Colgate Optic White George Main Stakes (1600m) and equal third favourite Tom Melbourne in the Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m).
“I’ve got a few possible options and I wouldn’t be underestimating Sound Proposition, I think he’s a high quality horse and has a good win in him,’’ Shinn said.
Shinn hasn’t ridden Sound Proposition in a race as yet but the ex-Kiwi impressed him with successive wins for Kris Lees at Randwick in June and July.
He took the opportunity to have a test run on the six-year-old in a course proper gallop at the last Newcastle meeting and is keen to get on his back in the Cameron.
— Lees Racing (@Leesracing) September 5, 2017
“He's an exciting horse, a lovely cut of a horse with great temperament,’’ Shinn said.
“He has a good horse's weight (59kg) but I think he is worthy of the weight. He's one to look out for on Friday and maybe one to look out for in the Epsom.’’
Shinn reunites with Happy Clapper, the $8 Epsom second elect, in the George Main for the first time this spring after Josh Adams partnered the seven-year-old to a first-up win in the Tramway Stakes.
The pair combined to win the Newcastle Newmarket earlier this year and run second in the Doncaster Mile.
“I'm delighted to be riding him. It's a very exciting race with Winx there but he's returned in great order with a strong victory,’’ Shinn said.
“Full credit to Pat Webster, he's placed the horse so well throughout his career and he has the horse racing at a high level.
“He's deserved of a Group 1 win, it's going to be hard to beat Winx but we will give it a shot.’’
Tom Melbourne runs second to Happy Clapper at Randwick – September 2
Then there’s Tom Melbourne.
Shinn could only take a light-hearted approach when discussing his misfortune on the horse at Rosehill back on August 12 and he’s rapt to be given a chance to atone in the Bill Ritchie (1400m) which carries an Epsom exemption.
Tom Melbourne was badly blocked for runs first-up at Rosehill that day and most thought he should have won.
The form out of the race was then confirmed with the gelding running another unlucky second in the Tramway after racing wide while fourth placed Washington Heights, also luckless, won the final race on the same program on September 2.
“We're still trying to find a way out but hopefully we can atone,’’ Shinn said.
“I think we can. He's been luckless in his first two runs since joining Chris Waller but he's shown he has great enthusiasm in his races.
“He's a quirky horse but I felt I got along with him well at my first ride on him and he's well placed.’’
Shinn of course rides the TAB’s Everest runner English in the Group 3 The Shorts (1100m), her first run this preparation, and after riding Brisbane Cup winner Chocante in trackwork on Tuesday he’s keen to be on board in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stake (2000m).