Waller keen on Shillelagh in Mackinnon
Sydney-based trainer Chris Waller is looking for more Group One spoils at Flemington with Savabeel mare Shillelagh after she took out the Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) last Saturday.
She will back up this Saturday to contest the Gr.1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) where she will jump from barrier six under in-form hoop James McDonald.
“She backs up from last Saturday where she was an impressive winner and that was against the girls at weight-for-age,” Waller said.
“This race is for both sexes and James McDonald retains the ride. Barrier six shouldn’t pose any problem to her and hopefully she gets an economical run.”
Waller said the seven-year-old mare should appreciate the step-up in distance in the A$2 million feature and he is bullish about her chances of adding a third Group One victory to her tally on Saturday.
“She shouldn’t have to get as far back as she does over shorter distances and that might make things a little easier for her,” he said.
“Clearly she loves Flemington, this is her first time over 2000m but the family that she is from would suggest that it won’t be any issue and being well into her preparation it is the right time to be trying her.
“I am quietly confident that she will be hard to beat.”
Mark Two to bounce back
New Zealand-trained four-year-old Mark Two will contest the Australian Turf Club Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday, with connections confident the daughter of Pins can return to her best.
Prepared by Stephen Marsh for Go Racing, Mark Two was a strong winner at Gosford last month before disappointing when ninth at Randwick last start.
“Second-up she took off a bit early and she just battled,” Go Racing principal Albert Bosma said.
“However, after the race she came up in lumps and bumps like hives everywhere, so she can’t have been feeling 100 percent.
“Her bloods are good, and she has improved. I think third-up we will see a much better performance.
“It should be a good track and from barrier two she will get a nice run. She is a quality mare that is over the odds and I think she is in the race up to her eyeballs.”
Oaks target for Mary
A crack at the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham is in the offing for impressive Pukekohe maiden winner Contrary Mary.
The Matt Goodson and Dianna Perron-bred and raced Rip Van Winkle filly came from last to score by three-quarters of a length for trainer Richard Collett and jockey Andrew Calder.
"She's quite smart. She's pulled up a little shin-sore so we'll give her a bit of a let-up but we think she could develop into an Oaks filly later on,” Collett said.
Meanwhile, exciting sprinting three-year-old Von Trapp is back in work with Collett and is expected to trial towards the end of the month in preparation for Christmas racing.