Durable, evergreen Whanganui-owned galloper Who Shot Thebarman has shown he is far from pension age just yet with a fast-finishing third in the Group 1 $A1.5 million Kia Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The rising 10-year-old has the $A2 ATC Sydney Cup over 3200m on Saturday, April 14 as his immediate mission, but longer range is his fourth attempt at the $A6.2 million 2018 Lexus Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November.
The nine-year-old stayer has proven a grand campaigner for Whanganui and Rangitikei farming brothers Humphrey, Dan, Michael and Shaun O’Leary and their spouses for the past six years and his last start third suggests he is far from a spent force despite advancing years.
In Saturday’s Tancred, the 2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin ($3) forged to the front halfway down the straight and scored by 1¼ lengths from former Japanese stayer Ambitious ($21) with veteran Kiwi stayer Who Shot Thebarman ($61) a half head away third.
Who Shot Thebarman could have been a little unlucky not to finish a touch closer after being held up for a run in the straight but his effort to run third was outstanding, convincing trainer, expat Kiwi Chris Waller, to press on with Sydney Cup plans.
“It (Saturday’s run) was a lovely trial for the Sydney Cup,” Humphrey O’Leary said from home on Tuesday.
“His win in the Gr1 Moonee Valley Gold Cup, his second in the Sydney Cup last season and now this third in the Tancred looks like age is not a worry. Chris (Waller) has emailed us saying everything is on target for the Sydney Cup with his only slight concern the 55kg he has to carry with Almandin on 58kg.
“Chris initially thought he would get 54kg, but realistically he has earned his weight. It will be his fifth attempt at the Sydney two mile where his has two seconds to his credit.
The beauty on Saturday was the Tancred was at Rosehill. That’s his home and he only has to walk 30m to the track, run his race and then return home – he was a very happy horse after the race.
“The Sydney Cup is at Randwick, but he loves that track too. The key is the step up in distances. The 2400m of the Tancred suited and now the step to 3200m is ideal – he is an out-and-out two miler.’
O’Leary confirmed the Melbourne Cup is the longer term aim which could mean he and wife Fiona have two runners.
Humphrey and Fiona have their shares in Who Shot Thebarman, but own outright Ladies First, who will also be set for the Melbourne feature by New Plymouth trainer Allan Sharrock after her narrow, but gutsy Auckland Cup victory last month.
“She’s in the paddock at the moment, but Melbourne is her target and with two runners in the cup means we only have 22 to beat – it narrows our odds,” O’Leary joked alluding to the maximum 24 runners in the Melbourne feature.
With his $A145,000 for running third in the Tancred, Who Shot Thebarman has amassed $A3,224,446 in stakes for the O’Leary clan to date.
Who Shot Thebarman was scratched two days before last year’s Melbourne Cup with an elevated temperature, but has proven the Holy Grail is not beyond him with a third his best effort yet. – NZ Herald