Quality mare headlines O'Brien's big team


Former Sydney mare Aegean Sea headlines Danny O'Brien's seven-strong team for Saturday's Caulfield meeting.

The Flemington trainer will saddle up his new stable acquisition as well De Little Engine, Bullpit, Zahspeed and promising three-year-olds Toffee Nose, Verstappen and Lycurgus.

"It's going to a big day for the stable as we have some really nice chances," O'Brien said from the Sydney Easter sales where he has picked up a few yearlings for his stable over the past few days.

"Aegean Sea is a beautiful mare and we are excited to have been given the opportunity to see if we can build on her record down here in Victoria."

After winning impressively on debut as a two-year-old in the Spring of 2014, the daughter of Beneteau was not seen at the races again for nearly 18 months due to injury.

The winner of three of her 14 career starts, Aegean Sea last raced finishing 16th in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield, and since taking the reins O'Brien has used his private training facility at 13th Beach and a trial at Cranbourne to get the mare ready for this weekend's race.

"She has been listed-placed back in the Spring at this course and distance so sticking to that formula at the minimum in a fillies and mares handicap made sense," O'Brien said of her first-up run for the stable.

O'Brien's appears to have numerous strong chances at the meeting including last start Group 3 runner up Toffee Nose, who drops back to a fillies handicap.

Three-year-old Verstappen, who has filled the runner's up stall against the older horses at Moonee Valley and down the Flemington straight in the Grand Handicap, is back to his own age group and last start Adelaide Cup sixth placegetter De Little Engine drops back to a 2400m handicap.

Three-year-old Lycurgus will step out to 2400m for the first time in the Galilee Series Final, which is far cry from his sire Star Witness' pet distances.

"His two runs since stepping up in trip have been very good and he deserves his chance at a race like this."

O'Brien said Nug Nug Park pair Zahspeed and Bullpit should put in improved performances.

"Zahspeed will be improved from his first-up fourth in the Benalla Cup and Bullpit will appreciate getting away from Moonee Valley as the 1000m at Caulfield has a longer run into the first turn."

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