Trainer makes early bid to realise dreams of Melbourne Cup glory

Danny O'Brien says he's different from most Australian trainers.

The fastest rising star among the training ranks says unlike most Australians, he's more excited by stayers than by speed horses.

Which is why he was happy to go outside his normal financial comfort zone to pay $550,000 for Xcellent's little brother at Karaka yesterday.

O'Brien says he dreams of the Melbourne Cup and he's fortunate to have a new owner in his Melbourne stable that shares his passion for stayers.

"I've got this new bloke from Western Australia who has asked me to find him a likely Melbourne Cup type horse," said O'Brien as he signed for the Pentire-Excelo colt halfway through yesterday's premier session.

O'Brien was about to reveal the owner's name to the press when a cellphone call from Perth arrived - a request for O'Brien to keep the brand new owner's name out of the press.

O'Brien said he fell in love with the Pentire colt. "For a start, Xcellent is as good a stayer as we've seen in the last few years.

"I love this colt's attitude and he's a lovely walking type."

Owners happy to wait for a stayer have increased in numbers in O'Brien's telephone directory since the Flemington trainer produced a Master O'Reilly-Douro Valley quinella result in the Caulfield Cup in October.

"When I come to New Zealand I look for the staying types," he said. "There's so few of them in any Australasian catalogues these days.

"I think Pentire is a very underrated stallion and he's getting a better type of mare overall in the last couple of years."

Earlier O'Brien paid $200,000 for a Pentire-Cent For Me colt, closely related to fine staying mare Our Sophia, who left the Canterbury and Rosehill Guineas winner Carnegie Express. The colt may also end up in the ownership of the Western Australian.

O'Brien makes no apology for being mesmerised by the Melbourne Cup.

"We're so lucky to have a horse race that the likes of Aiden O'Brien and Luca Cumani, two of the best trainers in the world, are suddenly in love with."

Cumani, who came to Melbourne in 2006 for the first time for the cup, was back last November and narrowly missed with Purple Moon, who was run down by Efficient in the Melbourne Cup.

Aiden O'Brien, regarded as possibly the world's best horseman, was attending his first Melbourne Cup in November when he looked up into the packed stands five minutes before the race and said: "There is nothing like this anywhere in the world."

And O'Brien is excited by those stories. "I spent some time with Aiden and he's gobsmacked by the Melbourne Cup. He and Luca will be back every year. They'll be planning their campaign for this year.

"What a thrill it'd be to win a Melbourne Cup - but it won't be easy, the Japanese will be back this year.

"The tougher it is to win, the bigger the thrill if you achieve it."

O'Brien said he hadn't given up that the New Zealand-bred Master O'Reilly could be successful at 3200m.

"Was it because he had an 'off' day, or didn't get the trip? - you just don't know until you try next time."

Master O'Reilly would have just a light autumn campaign before being set for the Melbourne Cup.

by Mike Dillon - The New Zealand Herald

Read the full article here at The New Zealand Herald

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