Recovering O'Brien eager for return to track

CAULFIELD Cup winning trainer Danny O'Brien said yesterday he was eager to return to the track this week to fine-tune his Victoria Derby and Melbourne Cup hopes following an emergency appendix operation.

O'Brien was rushed to Epworth Hospital on Friday to have his appendix removed, just six days after he trained the first two runners home in the Caulfield Cup, but he said yesterday he expected to be at Flemington for Saturday's Victoria Derby to cheer home either of his two hopefuls, Villain or Barbaricus.

"I am hoping to get out (of hospital) tonight and get back to the track as soon as possible," he said yesterday.

It has been a hectic month for O'Brien, who became a father for the first time with son Thomas, and trained the Caulfield Cup quinella with Master O'Reilly and Douro Valley last Saturday.

Villain was usurped as the Victoria Derby favourite by Marching and Kibbutz — the pair who quinellaed Saturday's AAMI Vase at Moonee Valley. But the performances of the Vase duo did not dampen O'Brien's enthusiasm for Villain.

"Villain has had the perfect derby preparation and his run in the Norman Robinson (Stakes) was very good. I think he'll be better suited back at Flemington as well," O'Brien said.

O'Brien admitted he was a little concerned that his other derby hopeful, Barbaricus, may be showing the signs of a long campaign.

"I just thought his run on Saturday (when third in the AAMI Vase) was not as good as his previous two efforts and I am not sure yet if he may have reached the end of it (campaign)."

by Andrew Eddy - The Age

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