Shamus Award (Image: Racing Photos)
It’s the moment itself the Danny O’Brien remembers fondest when reflecting on his Cox Plate triumph with Shamus Award in 2013.
Ten years after winning the event, O’Brien said what took him by surprise was being in the epicentre of a Cox Plate win and the fanfare which accompanied it.
O’Brien has trained a Melbourne Cup winner and a Caulfield Cup winner but said winning a Cox Plate was a special memory.
“It was an exciting day. That’s what Moonee Valley does to you. You’re on the winning post watching your horse win a Cox Plate; it’s a hard thing to beat,” O’Brien said.
“You’re in that amphitheatre and everybody is looking down towards you when you win a Cox Plate.
“It’s a special race; it’s a great day atmosphere where everyone is close to the event. It's a unique feeling. It’s different from the other tracks. It’s a great memory.”
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O’Brien also remembered Shamus Award only gained a run in the Cox Plate when his friend and fellow trainer Mark Kavanagh had to take out his superstar mare Atlantic Jewel due to a tendon injury soon after the field was declared on the Tuesday before the Cox Plate.
As Shamus Award was first emergency, he gained a start after Atlantic Jewel’s scratching.
Although Shamus Award is the only maiden to have won a Cox Plate, O’Brien thought it was the ideal race for him.
At Shamus Award’s previous start, he had finished third in the Caulfield Guineas and O’Brien thought there were similarities with So You Think, who finished fifth in the 2009 Caulfield Guineas before he won the Cox Plate.
“His Caulfield Guineas run was outstanding for a horse that normally leads. He definitely should have won the Caulfield Guineas and if that was the case this was the right race for him to start in,” he said.
“A couple of years before So You Think came from last to finish fifth in the Caulfield Guineas and then like Shamus Award he ended up leading and winning the Cox Plate.”
Shamus Award was ridden by 18-year-old Chad Schofield and he went straight to the lead and stayed there for the duration holding off a late challenge from Happy Trails in the shadows of the post
“We drew a good gate with gate three. He got a magnificent ride from Chad and he was a good horse. They are great memories.”
WATCH: Shamus Award's incredible Cox Plate win
O’Brien’s love affair with Shamus Award has continued with his progeny.
As it transpired Shamus Award also stands as a stallion in the Geelong area, at Rosemont Stud, Ceres which is 40 kilometres away from O'Brien's 13th Beach training facility.
O’Brien also won the 2014 Australian Guineas with Shamus Award and he was retired to stud as a four-year-old to Widden Stud, in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales.
Shamus Award was relocated to Rosemont Stud in 2019 and since then he has proven to be one of Australia’s best stallions.
O’Brien has had success at Group 1 level with his progeny having trained the ill-fated El Patroness to win the 2022 Australian Oaks. He will also have El Patroness younger sister Served Cold, who won the Geelong Classic, contesting the VRC Oaks on November 9.
O’Brien is an unashamed fan of Shamus Award as a stallion and predicts his success will only get bigger.
He pointed out that the Edward Cummings trained Duais, a triple Group 1 winner, would represent Shamus Award in this year’s Cox Plate.
“He’s shown the ability to get a top line horse. A lot of stallions can get a good horse but he’s had horses like Incentivise, Duais and El Patroness. He can get a really good horse, which not many stallions can.”
Although Shamus Award has already established himself as one of Australia's leading stallions, O'Brien believes his impact is only to get bigger.
“I think it’s all in front of him. He’s had big books of mares in the last few years on the back of his success as he didn’t get much support in his first few seasons. In the next five years he’ll get some real superstars.”