Shiraz familiarises himself with Valley

Trainer Tony McEvoy has taken the opportunity to give Shiraz a gallop around Moonee Valley before the sprinter’s bid to add another first-up victory to his record.

Shiraz, the winner of four of six starts fresh, has yet to race at Moonee Valley but was among the horses to work there on Tuesday morning in preparation for Saturday’s meeting featuring the Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000m).

“I was pleased with the way he got around there,” McEvoy said.

“He’s just got to come through that gallop nicely and he’ll take his place on Saturday.

“He just cruised around over a half mile on his own. He wasn’t sent out to be tested too much. It was just a familiarisation gallop, really.”

Shiraz has only raced twice in Melbourne, winning the Aurie’s Star Handicap down the straight at Flemington a year ago while his other Melbourne start was a Schillaci Stakes failure at Caulfield.

The seven-year-old hasn’t started since his unplaced run in the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick in April which came after a close fourth in the Group Two Challenge Stakes first-up before a second in the Group One Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill.

McEvoy believes Shiraz has come back equally as good ahead of the Carlyon.

“All the signs to me are that he’s the same,” he said.

“He’s probably carrying a bit more weight. This is his first full preparation in Melbourne and he seems very settled and calm at Flemington.”

Shiraz’s performance in the Carlyon will also give McEvoy a guide whether to press on to the Group One Moir Stakes next month.

“I just want to see how he is at the Valley,” McEvoy said.

“The Moir is an option but if he’s not effective at the Valley then we will look at other options.

“He’s got to show a liking for the Valley and go well to give us enough confidence to consider a Group One at the track and distance.”

Shiraz, to be ridden by Luke Currie, is the highest-rated horse among the 19 nominations along with Group Two winner and Oakleigh Plate placegetter Heatherly.

Co-trainer Simon Zahra said Heatherly, who has won twice at Moonee Valley, looked to have returned from a spell in great order.

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