Valedictum Vulnerable In Sprint

Danny O'Brien believes Emirates Stakes winner Valedictum will be vulnerable when he resumes on his home track in Saturday's Aurie's Star Hcp (1200m) at Flemington.

The Umatilla six-year-old is coming off the longest spell in his distinguished career but being refreshed may not be enough for him to beat one of the strongest fields in the Listed race's history.

Last year Valedictum ran a superbly first-up in the Aurie's Star, running Niconero to a half-length down the straight, but O'Brien is prepared for a more difficult assignment this time.

"Obviously we want to see the horse run well but it is certainly a stronger race than last year," O'Brien said.

Valedictum has 59.5kg and is equal topweight with El Segundo who is one of the most promising gallopers in the country having finished sixth to Railings at his last start in the Caulfield Cup after winning the Caulfield Stakes last October.

Australian Guineas winner Apache Cat, talented Danehill five-year-old Zipping, who has won eight of his 12 starts, classy mare Chetwynd South and promising four-year-old sprinter Bel Danoro are other genuine winning chances.

Adding depth to the race are 2003 Mackinnon Stakes winner Casual Pass who won the Easter Cup in April and imported stakeswinning galloper Polar Bear who impressed trainer David Hayes last campaign with an acclimatising run when fourth to Volitant in the Group Three Victoria Hcp (1400m) at Caulfield in April.

O'Brien said Valedictum's best chance was for a fast pace from the start and that he would strip much fitter for the run.

"He's first up with 59.5kg and he is probably not as forward as he was last year," O'Brien said.

A winner of 10 races form just 29 starts, Valedictum raced consistently last spring culminating with victory in the Group One Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington in November.

At his last of only two runs in the autumn he was an eye-catching fourth to Perfect Promise, Lad Of the Manor and Fields Of Omagh in the Group One Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

For O'Brien it was proof that Valedictum is up to weight-for-age races.

"His run in the Orr was very good as he was up there with Fields Of Omagh who was probably on his best track," O'Brien said.

Valedictum went for an early spell when he had a minor setback which prevented him from competing in his primary autumn goal, the Group One Futurity Stakes (1600m).

"Once we couldn't get him ready for the Futurity Stakes he went straight to paddock, O'Brien said.

by Robert Windmill - AAPRacingandSports

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