US prospect eases blow of tragedy

THE shock surrounding the death of class mare Be Delicious this week was yesterday softened a little for her trainer Danny O'Brien with the news that he is high on the list to be selected as the new trainer for North American galloper and Cox Plate hopeful Honor In War.

O'Brien confirmed yesterday that he was in contention to train the seven-year-old winner of almost $2 million in prizemoney, who is due to enter quarantine in the US in the next few days in preparation for a permanent change of address to the southern hemisphere.

"There's still a way to go before he's confirmed as definitely coming out but if he does, I could end up training him," O'Brien said yesterday. "I understand the owner is looking to sell him orat least a portion of him and then stand him at stud in Australia the following season."

O'Brien had races such as the Group 1 Toorak Handicap in mind for Be Delicious this spring, and the trainer said her death, possibly of a heart attack, on Tuesday morning, came as a total shock.

"She had just trialled and trialled as well as you could have hoped a horse to, and she was looking fantastic as she trotted back to the stable but not long after she came past me, she dropped dead," O'Brien said.

Be Delicious, a four-year-old mare, had raced only nine times for three wins and five placings and had earnings of more than $180,000.

Honor In War, who is now trained by Paul McGee near New York, is a Group 1 winner over 1810 metres at Churchill Downs in 2003 but has since been twice placed at the elite level.

There has never been a US galloper to contest the Cox Plate buteven if Honor In War does travel to Australia, he is no certainty to gain a start in the $3 million race.

Jordan said five international horses were in quarantine and due to arrive in Melbourne next Tuesday. He said Japanese gallopers Pop Rock and Delta Blues were being aimed at the Caulfield and Melbourne cups, as were European gallopers Land 'N' Stars and Wunderwood.

by Andrew Eddy - The Age

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