O'Brien eyes first Derby runners

Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien has never had a runner in the Victoria Derby but he will know if he’s on track with promising pair Galen and Sir Lago following Saturday’s Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield.


The Group 3 race for three-year-olds often brings together a number of the Derby hopefuls and O’Brien is confident his pair will be in the finish at their first start at 2000m.

Of course, the pair come into the race as two of the fancied runners after fighting out the finish over 1800m last start at Flemington, with Sir Lago hitting the front in the straight before in turn being claimed by his stablemate.

“This is the most relevant Derby lead-up of the season,” O’Brien said. “Both my horses really stepped up last start as they got to 1800m for the first time. They were both strong to the line and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t run 2000m and further.”

Galen, a son of Galileo, has been ear-marked for the Derby since a two-year-old and has continued to improve with each run this campaign, finishing eighth in the Group 2 Stutt Stakes around Moonee Valley before getting back to the bigger track and running on to score by a neck over Sir Lago at Flemington.

His sire was a winner of both the English and Irish Derbies.

Sir Lago, by Encosta De Lago, is a big improving gelding who finished last two starts back at Sandown Hillside in an unsuitable race before the addition of blinkers last start saw him run a far better race.

“Since he was a two-year-old we though Galen would be a spring three-year-old over ground,” O’Brien said. “He hit the line hard last start and shapes as though he will be suited by the 2000m and moreso the 2500m next start.

“Sir Lago was always going to improve with the blinkers on as he’s a big, green type and he did, running a much better race last start. We thought he might be a bit immature for the spring but have been pleasantly surprised by the way he’s continued to come on. He’ll still be a better horse in the autumn, though.”

O’Brien said both horses have had to mark time in unsuitable races until their last start over 1800m on their home track.

Saturday’s race is another important step towards the Derby for both as it will be their last run before tackling the 2500m at Flemington in a fortnight.

Early betting has the Peter Moody-trained Ankh Morpork favourite with TAB Sportsbet at $3.20, ahead of West Australian Egomaniac at $4.20. Sydney galloper Get Square is $5.00 while Galen is a $7.00 chance. His stablemate Sir Lago is at $13.00.

by Jason Hickson - RacingandSports.com.au

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