Winning Edge Stakes to decide O'Brien stayer's fate

MASTER O'Reilly sits high on the betting charts for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, but his spring hinges on tomorrow's Winning Edge Stakes at Caulfield.

Master O'Reilly is equal 27th in the order of entry for the Caulfield Cup and No. 34 in the Melbourne Cup.

Victory in the Group 2 Winning Edge will gain the five-year-old a start in the Caulfield Cup and a likely rehandicap in the Melbourne Cup.

It's a scenario not lost on trainer Danny O'Brien, who said Master O'Reilly's preparation had been geared around the 2400m Winning Edge, for which he is $2.30 favourite with TAB Sportsbet.

"His whole spring hinges on him winning. It opens the door to all the other races," O'Brien said. "It's why we have mapped out his entire program. This spring was all about winning the Winning Edge. This was always going to be D-Day for the spring."

O'Brien said if Master O'Reilly won tomorrow, he would consider backing him up in the Caulfield Cup tomorrow week.

He said an option would be to run in the 2500m Moonee Valley Cup on October 27.

"The horse has backed up previously. He has no problem doing it," O'Brien said. "He's come out of the Valley run (JRA Cup) really well. He's had a faultless preparation.

"It's a race that he has to win to prove he's good enough and to get a run in the other races.

"We have no excuses. We're very happy with the horse.

"Dolphin Jo is in form. He's the one to beat. He's the one we're most concerned about."

Dolphin Jo, impressive winner of The Bart Cummings (2530m) last Saturday, is a $4.40 second favourite.

O'Brien is expecting his US import Tacit Agreement ($18) to improve on his first-up run in the 2040m JRA Cup, when he was caught on the rails on a swoopers' track.

He said he expected Tacit Agreement to finish in the first four in the Winning Edge.

"He was acceptable at Moonee Valley when he was in on the fence in a slowly run race. He didn't have much in his favour," O'Brien said. "He'll be better when he gets to Flemington and two miles, but we're still looking for him to run well."

Tacit Agreement has not passed the first elimination clause, but a first-three finish can lift him into the Caulfield Cup.

by Adrian Dunn - Herald Sun

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