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Newmarket plan comes off for Shamexpress
By Mathew Toogood
17:44 AEST Sat Mar 9 2013

Royal Ascot is on the radar for three-year-old Shamexpress after a long-range plan to win the Group One Newmarket Handicap came to fruition at Flemington on Saturday.

Trainer Danny O'Brien had long pinpointed the Newmarket as the autumn Group One that Shamexpress could win and the colt produced on the big day, coming from near the tail of the field to prevail in a thrilling finish.

Shamexpress, perfectly ridden by Craig Newitt, arrived in time to grab favourite Moment Of Change in the shadows of the post to win by a short head with Sydney sprinter Aeronautical running the race of his life to finish another nose away third.

"It's been a long-range plan since he ran third in the Coolmore on Derby Day," O'Brien said.

"He's come here in great shape and we got the ride right today.

"Craig just produced him beautifully and he really let go like a top-class Group One sprinter."

Shamexpress had failed at his most recent start in the Group One Lightning when he weakened after being on the speed in the race won by Black Caviar in track record time.

The colt will avoid the champion mare wherever she goes, but O'Brien said an overseas mission was a definite possibility.

The trainer has already taken Glamour Puss and three-year-old colt Star Witness to race at Royal Ascot.

"There's always the temptation to travel, particularly for straight-course horses and that seems to be the forte for him," O'Brien said.

"We'll let the dust settle but there would be a chance that we'll be off to Europe."

Shamexpress was a "forgotten horse" in the race in the eyes of Newitt, who claimed his second Newmarket triumph after scoring on Miss Andretti in 2007.

Newitt, who'll celebrate his 28th birthday on Sunday, let Shamexpress settle back in the pack as Luke Nolen took up the running on Moment Of Change.

Moment Of Change gave a strong kick at the 200m and looked like giving Nolen and trainer Peter Moody their third Newmarket win in four years but he was claimed late by Shamexpress who had a 6kg pull in the weights.

"He was as brave as he could be and ran as well as he could. But we still come up a couple of inches short," Nolen said.