O'Brien declares War a genuine contender

DANNY O'Brien can see no reason why American horse Honor In War, which arrived in Melbourne on the weekend, won't gain a start in the Tattersall's Cox Plate.

After a 24-hour flight from Chicago with stopovers in Honolulu and Auckland, Honor In War has settled in at a makeshift quarantine centre at Werribee. "He travelled well. He's eating, drinking, it's all very positive at this stage," said O'Brien, who has taken over the training of Honor In War. O'Brien described Honor In War as a "quality-looking individual" with strong Grade 1 form.

He said he had watched all the tapes of Honor In War, a winner of 10 races, and was impressed by his turn of foot.

"He won't be out of place in the Cox Plate," O'Brien said.

Honor In War, an eight-year-old, won a Listed race at Gulfstream Park, Florida, in January, his sole win this year. At his only run this campaign, he finished a closing fourth over 1609m at Turfway Park, Kentucky, on September 9.

Honor In War won the Grade 1 Turf Classic (1810m) at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, in May 2003. O'Brien said the entire had also run several placings in Grade 1 events.

"I can't see any reason why he wouldn't get in. Super Impose won the Cox Plate as an eight-year-old after winning the Canberra Cup. This horse is a proven Group 1 winner. There will be a lot worse horses than him in the race.

"If the club sticks to its rule that you have to be a Group 1 winner then he will definitely get in. I would be staggered if he didn't get in."

Steven Arnold will ride Honor In War, who will have a serious workout at Werribee early next week.

O'Brien will take the luckless Demerger to the Moonee Valley Cup en route to the Melbourne Cup. He said Demerger was not suited by the slow tempo in the Winning Edge (2400m) on Saturday.

"She reared at the start, settled last in a race where there was no pace. She's going well," O'Brien said.

Splashing Out, who stretched her unbeaten record to three races in the Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday, will be freshened for the Group 1 Ascot Vale Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on November 4.

by Adrian Dunn - Herald Sun

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