Douro Valley almost invisible, says Danny O'Brien

DANNY O'Brien is a little perplexed how Douro Valley is rated by punters and bookies.

It's almost as if his form is invisible, such is the lack of hype around the horse in the lead-up to Saturday's Caulfield Cup.

Maldivian, the horse trained by Mark Kavanagh -- a good friend of O'Brien's who shares the same trainers' tower at Flemington trackwork -- is getting all the attention.

That makes O'Brien a little confused about the merits of his horse and Maldivian.

"They've met twice for a one-all result. He defeated us in the Easter Cup last Easter and then we beat him in the Naturalism Stakes," O'Brien said.

"On that occasion both horses went in third-up. I know Maldivian's improved since then, but so has my horse.

"There's never been much between them. I said to a few blokes on the day of the Naturalism that he's got the same chance as Maldivian, but one is 10-1 and the other is 2-1. It's probably going to be the same thing again on Saturday."

O'Brien is used to Douro Valley being undersold.

"No one else seemed to think he was a Cups horse at the start of the spring, but I thought he was a genuine Cups horse all along," O'Brien said.

Since Douro Valley joined O'Brien's stable a year ago, he has done nothing but impress the trainer.

"Last spring he finished second in the Eclipse Stakes and the last campaign he finished second in the Easter Cup and should have won the Warrnambool Cup," he said.

"He won the Naturalism Stakes and then he ran a great race when fourth in the Turnbull Stakes.

"Really, what more can he do going into a Caulfield Cup?

"I've thought all along he's a genuine 2400m horse. I think the distance will suit."

Even compared to stablemate Master O'Reilly, O'Brien said Douro Valley was underplayed, naming the six-year-old as his best hope on Saturday.

But in the betting Master O'Reilly is $10 and Douro Valley $12 with TAB Sportsbet.

O'Brien said Master O'Reilly was his Melbourne Cup horse, but did not discount him running a big race on Saturday.

"Any horse you think can win a Melbourne Cup, it's logical to think he will also run well in a Caulfield Cup," O'Brien said.

"Although he (Master O'Reilly) was dominant at Flemington recently, he's had two starts at Caulfield for win in a Group 2 and a second to Rubiscent, who then won at weight-for-age. I think he will be a couple of lengths better in the Melbourne Cup, though."

O'Brien has already achieved his first two aims for the Caulfield Cup: to get both horses in the field by winning the penalty-free exemption races, the Naturalism and Winning Edge, with the pair.

by Michael Manley - Herald Sun

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