O'Brien punts on Heads you win at new complex

FLEMINGTON trainer Danny O'Brien may be a bit player compared with David Hayes or Lee Freedman, with a possible three runners at Caulfield today, but that will not be the case for long, judging by plans he unveiled yesterday for his new training complex at Barwon Heads.

After 11 years as a trainer, O'Brien is ready to extend his boundaries and is prepared to look at what Hayes and Freedman are doing and, hopefully, add a dash of his own experience and personality.

"I've been down to Lee's (Freedman) place at Rye to have a look and his brother Michael is helping us with our track," O'Brien said.

The 65-hectare Barwon Heads property is about twice the size of Freedman's Markdel, set up five years ago and is largely responsible for Freedman becoming the first Victorian-based trainer to reach 100 metropolitan winners last season.

O'Brien finished fifth on the trainers' premiership last season, with 38 wins, behind Freedman, Hayes, Peter Moody and Mick Price.

He trained nine stakes race winners nationally, which was second only to Freedman for a Victorian-based trainer, and had 88 winners from 458 starters.

O'Brien plans to double the size of his operation from the 50 horses he has in work at Flemington now to 100 once the Barwon Heads complex is completed in about 18 months. It will feature a 20-metres wide, 1400 metres grass track based on the shape of the course proper at Flemington. There also will be an eight-metre wide sand track and, eventually, an artificial track based on those used in England, which impressed O'Brien on his recent visit to Royal Ascot with Glamour Puss.

O'Brien, 35, who studied law before deciding he was more interested in racing, said it was important that training should be treated like any other successful business.

O'Brien could get punters off to a good start at Caulfield today with his two starters, Juste Momente and World Joy, in the opening race, the Danzero Plate (1400 metres).

Although World Joy, a last-start winner at Flemington, has an edge in fitness, O'Brien has a high opinion of the Giant's Causeway filly Juste Moment, who has been off the scene since her wins at Caulfield and Flemington in April and May.

O'Brien's only other acceptor today is King's Champ, third emergency in the Martha Cove Cup.

by Tony Bourke - The Age

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