Another grey Derby double

The in-form Danny O'Brien stable is keen to see another grey win Saturday's AAMI Vase at Moonee Valley, then go on to take the Victoria Derby double.

The Graeme Rogerson-trained Efficient was an impressive winner in both the Vase and Derby last year, becoming the fifth horse in the 20 years since the Vase has been run over 2040m to complete the feat.

O'Brien will saddle up Barbaricus in Saturday's Vase which in recent times has proven an excellent guide to the Derby.

Over the last 20 years, 12 of the Victoria Derby winners have used the Vase as their final lead-up race to the classic.

Barbaricus comes into the race off an eye-catching fifth in the Caulfield Guineas, no doubt the benchmark three-year-old form of the season behind Weekend Hussler.

Worth noting that while only two horses have completed the Guineas/AAMI Vase double, 12 horses have come through that race to win the Vase.

“He's flying and has progressed well since the Guineas,” O'Brien's racing manager Aaron Corby said.

“He got a long way back but the way he ran home to finish fifth with some excellent sectionals augers well for this race. We think he'll be suited by the longer trip and hopefully can go on to the Derby.”

While Barbaricus is by Lion Hunter who would be regarded more as a sprinter, he does have some stoutness through his dam Light Of Erin, a Palace Music mare.

“On what he's shown from the start he's always indicated he would appreciate ground,” Corby said. “He races like a stayer and has some good staying blood on his dam's side.”

Should Barbaricus come through the Vase as expected on Saturday, that will leave O'Brien with a strong hand in the Victoria Derby with stablemate Villian also to contest the race.

It will also leave a tough decision for rider Steven Arnold, who has been riding both through their spring campaigns.

Villian finished third behind Pillar Of Hercules last Saturday at Caulfield in the Norman Robinson Stakes and although beaten ran a top race as his final lead into the Derby.

“I'm surprised he eased in Derby markets because his run was excellent,” Corby said. “The sectionals from the race made it very difficult but he stuck on well. He'll appreciate getting back to Flemington and the longer trip.”

Neither O'Brien or Arnold have won the Victoria Derby.

by Jason Hickson -

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