Efficient no Derby certainty: O'Brien

HIS best Victoria Derby chance Galen is now in the paddock, but Flemington trainer Danny O'Brien is far from conceding Saturday's classic to the favourite Efficient, claiming a lack of seasoning for the Zabeel gelding could yet be his undoing.

O'Brien, who will run Sir Lago in the $1.5 million Derby, said yesterday that while Efficient had been most impressive in recent weeks, some doubt existed as to whether he could run out a strong 2500 metres at just his first preparation.

"Most of us in the Derby are probably hoping that he (Efficient) might not be seasoned enough for the Derby," he said.

"He's got there in a hurry as only 2½ weeks ago he ran at a mile (1600 metres) for the first time in a restricted race.

"But, look, he has been most impressive and is the horse to beat, but he's not over the line yet."

Efficient firmed into $2.25 for the Derby after drawing gate nine at yesterday's barrier draw. A maximum field of 16 will face the starter at 3pm on Saturday.

O'Brien expected to have an even better chance of toppling Efficient this Saturday as he was confident he had Flemington winner Galen primed for "the race of his life" until the Galileo colt wrenched a joint at trackwork on Tuesday.

"It's very disappointing to have to pull him out of the race as his work here on Tuesday was outstanding," O'Brien said.

The trainer has numerous chances to snare a feature race at the Derby meeting, which, for the first time, boasts five group 1 races.

O'Brien said he was delighted with his unbeaten filly Splashing Out, who takes on the colts in the Ascot Vale Stakes. "It's only eight weeks ago she won a Kyneton maiden but she's kept progressing each time," he said.

O'Brien will run Daunting Lad first-up in the Salinger Stakes and hopes his mare Pin Up can vie for a group 1 in the Myer Classic, despite being made the first emergency.

The stable has Demerger primed for her Melbourne Cup tilt and hopes to add Aznavour to the Cup order as that horse will race for a ballot-free Cup position in the Saab Quality.

by Andrew Eddy - The Age

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