Doc's a star

Ni­chols sees Aurie’s as warm up for Group 1 test

The Sportsman Weekend - - Front Page - By RAY HICKSON

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

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