Doc's a star
Nichols sees Aurie’s as warm up for Group 1 test
IT’S the clash of two potential spring players when Group 1 winners Hey Doc and I Am A Star face off in the traditional carnival curtain raiser, the Aurie’s Star (1200m) at Flemington. Hey Doc, the Australian Guineas winner, is a proven first-up performer and tackling the Flemington straight fresh will be right up his alley. His trainer Tony McEvoy is bullish about the four-yearold’s chances saying he’s had an ideal preparation for the Group 3 sprint. ‘’He’s very effective first-up... and he’s fit and ready to go. He’ll take a lot of beating,’’ McEvoy said. I Am A Star’s trainer Shane Nichols said there’s improvement in his mare but she’s also fine shape.
TRAINER Shane Nichols admits he’s using tomorrow’s Group 3 $150,000 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) as a training tool for classy mare I Am A Star but says she’s done more than enough work to keep her unbeaten Flemington record intact.
Like most trainers, Nichols is eyeing the $1m Memsie Stakes (1400m) secondup with Group 1 winning mare.
With t hat i n mind he said he hasn’t given her a jump out in preparation for her return as he aims to have near peak at Caulfield.
“She hasn’t had a jump out but she’s done enough to not take harm from the run and will be improved with the run,” Nichols said.
“I want to land in the Memsie really close to her top.”
I Am A Star, three from three at Flemington, opened her spring campaign last year with Group 3 win and ended it taking out the Myer Classic.
Nichols said she improved at least three lengths into the autumn and believes she’s come on a little bit more this time around.
“While we didn’t win a Group 1 in the autumn I thought she raced a bit more seasoned,” he said.
“Apart from the wet track in Sydney and bad barrier
the Oakleigh Plate everything was pretty much plain sailing.
“She could have improved a little bit, she certainly looks really good. Her coat is better than it was this time last year.”
If I Am A Star proves competitive in what is set to be a crack Memsie Stakes then Nichols won’t be afraid to embark on a weight-for-age spring.
He said it would open up all options including races like the Epsom Handicap and even Cox Plate.
“We’re going to have a throw at the stumps, if we get rolled then we get rolled but if snag one in the preparation it’ll be great,” he said.
As far as the Aurie’s Star is concerned, Nichols expressed some concern at the 58kg first-up but said it looks on paper to be the right race to kick off in.
“I thought down straight was the best option and it gives me three weeks at the start of her prep instead of two,” he said.
“I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve the weight, she looks to get an okay run from seven and there doesn’t look be anything that will jump roll along.”
Australian Guineas winner Hey Doc also has the Memsie second-up on his agenda as trainer Tony McEvoy looks to play to strengths.
The gelding hasn’t raced since a close sixth in the Group 1 Goodwood May and has had an easy jump out down the straight.
“Last prep I thought his second up run was his peak performance, even though he won the Group 1, and 1400m is a beautiful distance for him,” McEvoy said.
“He’s very effective firstup also and he’s fit and ready to go. He’ll take a lot of beating.
“He’s had a trouble free prep and I’m really looking forward to getting him back.”
McEvoy said it wasn’t his preference to run stablemate Manuel in the race but in order get him out to a mile coming weeks he needs to race.
Manuel ran fourth in quite a strong three-yearold race down the straight on Melbourne Cup Day but McEvoy concedes Hey Doc and company should have his measure.
“He’s a gross horse so my hand was forced to run him,” he said.
“He’ll find these a bit nippy but it will allow me to get where I want to go.”
I Am A Star