Shangri La Express remains unbeaten in Golden Gift

Two-year-old colt Shangri La Express has made it two wins from as many starts with victory in the $1 million Golden Gift.

SHANGRI LA EXPRESS winning the INGLIS GOLDEN GIFT at Rosehill in Australia.
SHANGRI LA EXPRESS winning the INGLIS GOLDEN GIFT at Rosehill in Australia. Picture: Steve Hart

Shangri La Express has stamped himself as a Golden Slipper prospect with a tough win in the Golden Gift to remain unbeaten from his first two starts.

With the winner's purse from Saturday's $1 million feature for two-year-olds, Shangri La Express has now banked enough prize money to secure a start in next autumn's Golden Slipper should his connections choose to head that way.

Co-trainer Adrian Bott indicated the Golden Slipper, the world's richest race for two-year-olds, looms as the major target for the colt but has not totally ruled out a Magic Millions tilt in January on the way there.

"I wouldn't rule that out but most likely the Golden Slipper with these colts is where you want to be aiming," Bott said.

"So we'll work back from that and see what it looks like.

"It's just whether we feel he can handle it all and whether we leave enough in the tank for the big race."

Shangri La Express, by Alabama Express out of Sent From Above, won the Kirkham Plate at Randwick on debut on October 21 and remained in training to target Saturday's race for which he started the $2.10 favourite.

Ridden by Regan Bayliss, Shangri La Express crossed from a wide draw in the 1100m event to sit outside the leader early and then pressed on to the front.

He gave a good kick in the straight and showed tenacity to hold his rivals at bay.

Victorian visitor Rue De Royale ($8.50) charged home to finish 1-1/4-lengths away in second with Volatile ($14) three-quarters of a length away third.

Bott, who trains in partnership with Gai Waterhouse, said Shangri La Express had the makings of a top-class two-year-old colt.

"He's had to do it pretty hard from the wide gate today but he's just been a natural two-year-old in that regard," he said.

"He's shown great tactical speed, sustained speed and he's got that great ability to then quicken off that.

"He did that first-up and he's been able to put up a strong performance second-up today."

Bayliss has ridden Shangri La Express in his two starts and is convinced the best is still ahead of the colt.

"He looks like a finished product now but he is not, he's open to further improvement," Bayliss said.

"We're going to see a really nice colt in the autumn."

Rue De Royale's co-trainer Calvin McEvoy said they would likely start planning towards the autumn as well with the colt.

"We've always thought of him as a Guineas sort of horse, and I think he will be that in time," McEvoy said.

"But he might be a bit better than that, and in the autumn he might be going for some of the bigger races."