Over the Sydney Autumn Carnival, stars of the turf have been born and champions have reaffirmed their status in magnificent fashion.
But none have captured the attention of the nation like Shelby Sixtysix, who has provided his Goulburn trainer Danny Williams the ‘joyride of a lifetime’.
The rise to stardom needs no introduction, from being beaten in Highway races in January, to placing second to Eduardo and running past Nature Strip in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m), winning the Group 3 Maurice McCarten (1100m) the next week and then backing up again and taking out a Group 1 title in The Galaxy (1100m) to a country’s resounding applause.
After the horse’s unprecedented rise, connections decided to find the funds to pay the late entry fee for the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on Day 1 of The Championships on April 2.
Shelby Sixtysix subsequently finished seventh, beaten 6.5 lengths with Nature Strip and Eduardo first and second respectively. He had laid in when placed under pressure in the straight and a post-race veterinary examination revealed the horse to be 3/5 lame in his off foreleg, requiring a veterinary clearance before being permitted to race or barrier trial.
You would be forgiven for assuming after the racing he has had, a little spell might be now on the cards, but Shelby Sixtysix is happy and well and is ready to go again.
Williams has opted out of a surprise Good Friday raid at Sale, electing to run in Sydney on Saturday instead.
The inaugural $500,000 Country Discovery (1100m) at Sale was Williams’ preferred choice in the event they would strike a wet track down there, but with only some rain forecast late in the week, the trainer has postponed the Victorian plan and will instead opt for the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
Williams is keen to run Shelby Sixtysix in Melbourne later in the year – weather permitting. A Brisbane winter campaign targeting the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) is also on the agenda.
“I’d love to (run at Sale) but I assume, given the weather forecast, that most probably would be unlikely,” Williams said.
“He’s a horse that needs a bit of give in the ground … I just think we’re going to get that, definitely in Sydney, rather than down there.
“It’s no good going down for the sake of it, the horse comes first and we’ve got to make sure he gets the right surface.”