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Shahwardi draws first blood for foreigners
Robert Grant
17:59 AEST Sat Oct 13 2012

French galloper Shahwardi scored his first win in three years and chalked up another Melbourne Cup tick for the foreign horses at Caulfield on Saturday.

The seven-year-old was declared a Cup chance by rider Kerrin McEvoy after he steered him from last-to-first in the Group Two Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).

Shahwardi is trained by Alain De Royer-Dupre, who won the Melbourne Cup with Americain in 2010.

The win has further strengthened the foreign raiders' claims on spring's two glamour features with the Caulfield Cup still on the radar for the gelding.

Stable spokesman Joe Murray said he was impressed by Shahwardi's performance after his relatively recent arrival in Australia.

"It was a great run," Murray said. "The trainer has prepared him beautifully.

"He's only been here a few weeks and to perform like that is amazing.

"Tony (Bloom) who is the owner, really wants to aim for the Melbourne Cup."

Murray said he was "not sure" whether the Caulfield Cup option for Shahwardi would be taken up.

Shahwardi's three wins all came in France in 2009.

He campaigned in England in 2010 without luck before returning to France where his form improved somewhat.

McEvoy was upbeat about the Cups target for Shahwardi after Saturday's race.

"There was a bit of action early, a bit of pace, and that was plan, just to ride him to be last off the bridle and he enjoyed it," McEvoy said.

"I think it's still up in the air if he backs up in the Caulfield Cup but if he stays at two miles he's going to be a chance in the Melbourne Cup - I think anyway.

"Obviously it's a step up in grade but he's travelled over well and he'd be some chance in the Melbourne Cup.

Shahwardi ($15) won by a length from Excluded ($7) with Exceptionally ($7.50) third.