SHANE Nichols’ sole Group 1 winning mare, I Am A Star, is set to return to the races this Saturday 11 August, as she gears up for the fast-approaching Spring racing carnival.
The quality mare missed the Autumn carnival due to minor injuries and hasn’t raced since November last year, but Nichols is confident she can get back to her best this campaign when she kicks off in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
“She’s a bit limited in what we can target as she’s probably a bit behind the boys at Group 1 weight-for-age level, but when she’s at level weights against the girls she can be quite dominant,” Nichols said.
The Mornington-based trainer, who broke through for a maiden Group 1 victory in the 2016 Myer Classic with I Am A Star, said he has been very happy with the way she has come back after minor setbacks from her spring campaign last year.
“We had some issues in the autumn where she just didn’t come up,” he said.
“She developed a splint, and she had a little bit of an issue with her feet, so we elected to give her a longer break so she can have some time to get over those problems.”
I Am A Star trialled at Pakenham on Wednesday 25 July before having two more jump outs at Mornington and Cranbourne in preparation for her return.
“I thought her jump out at Pakenham was very good where we wanted to ride her very conservatively,” Nichols said.
“She returned in the Aurie’s Star last year where she finished fourth, but she would have done more work heading into it this time around.”
While Nichols believes the Aurie’s Star is a great kick off point for her campaign, the Group 2 Stock Stakes, which she won last year, is her main target before progressing into Group 1 company.
“If she can get back to her peak then she can be competitive in Group 1 races, but the Stock Stakes at Moonee Valley is the realistic target for her,” he said.
Those Group 1 targets could include the Toorak Handicap (1600m), at Caulfield and the Myer Classic (1600m), at Flemington.