Douro Valley set to climb BMW mountain

Victorian stayer Douro Valley will face his autumn grand final when he makes his Sydney debut in an intriguing BMW at Rosehill on Saturday.

The six-year-old has been in sound form in Melbourne this campaign with a third to Princess Coup in the St George Stakes (1800m) and fourth in Sirmione's Australian Cup (2000m) two starts ago.

Both gallopers will again be among the gelding's rivals in the BMW but Douro Valley's trainer Danny O'Brien pointed to one significant difference.

"His runs have been good, he's just really been looking for the 2400 metres," O'Brien said.

"The last time he ran in a 2400-metre race he ran second in the Caulfield Cup and he actually beat Princess Coup and Sirmione home that day."

Douro Valley comes into Saturday's $2.25 million feature off a sixth to Like It Is in a leader-dominated Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield.

While he hasn't raced in Sydney before he did handle the right-handed way of going in a two-start Brisbane winter carnival campaign which included a fourth to Coalesce in the 2006 Premier's Cup.

"He's been up here for a week and he's settled in very well at Rosehill," O'Brien said.

"He worked very strongly on the course proper there on Tuesday."

Douro Valley settled in the first five horses in the run when second to stablemate Master O'Reilly in the Caulfield Cup.

There is no obvious leader in the BMW but O'Brien said that would not tempt him to instruct James Winks to lead on Douro Valley.

"No, he always settles midfield," O'Brien said.

"I'll be leaving it up to the jockey and let James ride him, if I ride him he's going to be in big trouble."

The BMW will be Douro Valley's sole autumn carnival target in Sydney before he is spelled in preparation for a Cups campaign.

Stable star Master O'Reilly will have one run at Flemington on Anzac Day before he too is put in the paddock ahead of a spring assault.

O'Brien also has underrated gelding Valedictum in Sydney with the last-start Victoria Handicap runner-up to tackle Saturday's Royal Parma Stakes (1400m) before backing up seven days later in the Doncaster Handicap.

The seven-year-old will have a tough job from barrier 18 on Saturday while Douro Valley will be chasing his first win at weight-for-age level in the BMW.

"He certainly isn't a proven weight-for-age winner which is a negative for him but he's fit and well, he'll handle the wet ground and he'll run well," O'Brien said.

"This race has been his target for the autumn and being 2400 metres and a $2 million race we needed to have him right for this and he's going to be ready."

Douro Valley was at $31 with betting firm Centrebet which reported strong backing for Princess Coup who tightened from $3.50 in to $3.30 behind $2.65 favourite Tuesday Joy.

by Mandy Cottell - AAP Racing

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