Shuffle Up has defied three potentially career-ending injuries to emerge as an unlikely big-race staying contender this spring carnival.
Trainers Richard and Michael Freedman could aim Shuffle Up at the Metropolitan Handicap if he can maintain winning form in the Gold Coast Turf Club Trophy (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Although the Freedman brothers have better racehorses in their stable, few wins have given them as much satisfaction as Shuffle Up’s effort to score over the Kensington 2400m course last start.
This was Shuffle Up’s first win in 30 months and capped a remarkable comeback from serious injury and illness.
“Shuffle Up is a very tough horse, he’s like granite but he has needed to overcome what he has been through,’’ Richard Freedman said.
“He’s had two bowed tendons, one on each leg, and that is usually enough to end a horse’s race career.
“But he’s also nearly lost an eye when he was returning from his second tendon injury. He got a clod in his eye during a gallop and ended up with an ulcer.’’
Shuffle Up defied expert veterinary opinion and finally made it back to the races during winter, his form and fitness steadily improving before the fifth run of his comeback resulted in his Kensington win.
Freedman said Shuffle Up has had a “tick over” barrier trial between runs and goes to Royal Randwick in peak condition.
“Shuffle Up is absolutely thriving, he looks beautiful in the coat, he’s covered in dapples, he’s enjoying life and his action is as free as a bird,’’ he said.
“He was on trial at 2400m last start but I was always confident he would stay the journey because is so relaxed and has a lovely, efficient stride. If he runs as well as that again, he is going to be hard to beat.’’
Prime Star resumes for the Freedman stable in the Show County Quality. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Shuffle Up has been entered for the Melbourne Cup but a more realistic spring target could be the Group 1 $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on October 2.
The Freedman stable has a strong entry at the Randwick meeting with talented sprinter Prime Star resuming in the Group 3 $160,000 Show County Quality (1200m) and classy mare Forbidden Love first-up in the Group 3 $160,000 Toy Show Quality (1100m).
Both sprinters have been trialling well but have drawn awkward gates – Prime Star comes out of barrier nine and Forbidden Love even wider in 14.
“Prime Star’s draw is no gift but if he can get some nice cover wide out, there is only one turn from that start and he is really going well,’’ Freedman said.
“Forbidden Love is even wider, she has drawn the ‘car park’. She is better ridden back but just how far back is the query.
“It will be luck of the race stuff with her but she is certainly capable of putting herself in the finish.’’
Freedman confirmed dual acceptor Love Tap will be saved for the Randwick closer, the Darwin Turf Club Trophy (1400m).
“We had Love Tap in a 1200m races as well and there were pros and cons for both but he carries less weight in the 1400m,’’ Freedman.
“He’s a promising horse and I think his best trip is around 1600m to 1800m.’’
The Freedman-trained Cognac, a former English import, could be set for his Australian win in the SAJC Trophy (1600m).
Cognac ran his best race down under when a closing third to Wairere Falls at Randwick three weeks ago
“He is a mystery horse,’’ Freedman said.
“I don’t like the gate he’s drawn (10) but if you are going to draw a wide gate then the best place is the 1600m start at Randwick.
“He is a horse that likes to settle close to the lead so we have time to work our way across.’’
Freedman also has Glistening entered for the Group 2 $200,000 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) and stayer Alakahan lining up against stablemate Love Tap.
“Glistening is going to have to prove she is up to that standard in her three-year-old season and Alakahan is probably going to find this a touch too short for him.’’
Originally published asBig staying targets on cards for Shuffle Up
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