O'Brien hoping for happy days next spring with The Fonz and Gallopin

FLEMINGTON trainer Danny O'Brien has had a bit of luck lately with New Zealand-bred stayers and is hopeful the run can continue over the next few days with a view to the 2008 spring carnival.

On Tuesday, four-year-old Pins horse Gallopin gets his chance to pass the first elimination clause for the Melbourne Cup when he lumps 58 kilograms around in the $151,000 Bagot Handicap at Flemington, while today's meeting at Moonee Valley may also unveil another emerging stayer.

O'Brien, who at the recent spring carnival won the Caulfield Cup with the Kiwi-bred Master O'Reilly, today saddles former Kiwi The Fonz in the 2040-metre Vocabulary Handicap and the trainer said yesterday that he felt the four-year-old was a stayer on the rise after two recent country wins.

"This is a nice race for him at this stage of his career (10th start). I think he's a stayer that can go on and win better races in the future," he said.

As with Gallopin, The Fonz began racing in NZ. He had four runs there earlier this year for one win and three placings but hardly hit the ground running when he joined O'Brien's stables over the winter.

He was easily beaten in a class one at Bendigo in September and then pulled hard before finishing a 43.5-length last in a class one race at Seymour. "He was doing quite a bit wrong early on but he's been putting things together lately and he'll enjoy the extra distance here," O'Brien said.

The OTI 2007 Syndicate managed by Simon O'Donnell and Terry Henderson bought into The Fonz to race him in Australia.

As for Gallopin, he has already made quite an impact in Australia after having the first two of his 11 career starts in NZ. He has won six of his eight races (with two seconds) since making his debut for O'Brien in June.

"Unfortunately he has 58 kilograms (in the Bagot) and that is a bit of an ask for a horse tackling 2500 metres for the first time but he's been in terrific form," O'Brien said.

The trainer reported that while his Caulfield Cup runner-up Douro Valley was back at his stables, Master O'Reilly was still enjoying the sunshine in the paddock and would return only for a light autumn campaign before being set for the spring.

by Andrew Eddy - The Age

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