NT OWNER'S SHOCK COX PLATE WIN

Sunday Territorian - - FRONT PAGE - By MIKE HEDGE in Mel­bourne

THE race that has ev­ery­thing has gone to a horse which had noth­ing.

Shamus Award, a colt whose place un­til yes­ter­day had been on rac­ing’s low­est rung, won ar­guably Aus­tralia’s great­est race, the $3 mil­lion Cox Plate.

It do­ing so, he de­fied the coun­try’s best horses and some of the world’s most pow­er­ful rac­ing sta­bles.

And he did it in the hands of teenage ap­pren­tice Chad Schofield, who was sus­pended the night be­fore the race and out­rode some of the big­gest names in the game.

Un­til last Tues­day, none but Shamus Award’s trainer Danny O’Brien and his own­ers had any no­tion their colt would even be in the race — and in the opin­ion of many, he shouldn’t have been.

Shamus Award had never won a race be­fore yes­ter­day.

In nine starts he’d been placed seven times and was the first maiden in 20 years to even be ac­cepted into what is re­garded as an elite field.

But O’Brien watched as the num­ber of likely ac­cep­tors dwin­dled on Tues­day morn­ing and took a punt by pay­ing up.

‘‘The worst that could hap­pen was they’d kick me out,’’ O’Brien said.

The Moonee Val­ley Rac­ing Club com­mit­tee voted to give Shamus Award half a chance, mak­ing him the first emer­gency.

Then came the scratch­ing a cou­ple of hours later of the nom­i­nal favourite At­lantic Jewel, and Shamus Award was in the 14-horse field that is meant to rep­re­sent the cream of Aus­tralian thor­ough­breds.

While Shamus Award went into the race with­out a win, he’d won $260,000 and wasn’t the av­er­age maiden.

‘‘He’s been a high-class colt — he was a maiden go­ing into to­day be­cause a few things hadn’t gone his way in the Guineas,’’ O’Brien said. ‘‘We cer­tainly went in know­ing he was in great or­der.

‘‘He’d had the per­fect prepa­ra­tion to go the 2000m.

‘‘ He had 49 ½ kg on his back, and once he drew well we were al­ways go­ing to be ag­gres­sive.

‘‘ And Chad gave him a peach of a ride.’’

It was a messy race in which the favourite It’s A Dun­deel couldn’t get closer than three-wide through­out and one- time Mel­bourne Cup favourite Puis­sance De Lune floun­dered.

How­ever, Shamus Award rolled along in front with Schofield grad­u­ally slip­ping him rein from the 1000m.

‘‘He trav­elled beau­ti­fully, re­ally sweetly,’’ Schofield said.

‘‘Fiorente was out­side him and we beat him off be­fore the turn. At the 200, I thought I had it won.’’

He trav­elled beau­ti­fully, re­ally sweetly

But on the line he thought he’d lost it as Happy Trails, a horse with a story to ri­val the win­ner’s, lunged at him.

Shamus Award ($21) hung on to score by a half head from Happy Trails ($ 12), whose trainer Paul Be­shara was dis­qual­i­fied a week ago for treat­ing the horse on a day last month on which he was due to race.

Fiorente ($8) ran a typ­i­cally brave race to fin­ish third, a long neck back with the favourite It’s A Dun­deel eighth.

Shamus Award, which in­creased its race­track earn­ings by al­most 800 per cent with a win­ner’s cheque of $1.8 mil­lion, will now rest un­til the au­tumn.

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