O'Brien sprint pair fresh for cup

Trainer Danny O'Brien is banking on the encouraging first-up records of Archie Senior and Escadaire as he makes a double play for Saturday's Pink Ribbon Cup at Caulfield.

Archie Senior has missed a place just once in four first-up starts while Escadaire has produced outstanding runs when kicking off his last two campaigns at Caulfield.

"He (Escadaire) always races well fresh at Caulfield," assistant trainer Gino Mata said.

Rated a rising star as a three-year-old, Escadaire last season didn't train on to the heights expected but has usually been competitive.

He started his last spring campaign with a close third to Eskaw in the Mitty's Cup (1200m) at Caulfield on Thousand Guineas day after he was beaten a just over a length when third to Tango Amigo's in the Listed PFD Stakes over Saturday's 1100m trip when resuming at the same track in March last year.

Escadaire hasn't started since finishing second to Zyzxx over 1400 metres at Caulfield on January 26 and connections believe that while he is eligible for easier races he can again sprint well fresh from barrier five.

"He has shown us he really enjoys racing at Caulfield first-up and it is the right time now to have him in training," Mata said.

"He is building up towards the the 1300-1400 metre distances where he excels."

Archie Senior has barrier one and Mata said that while he had the ability he would need luck to find a clear passage and win.

"He has certainly got the class but I don't think it (barrier one) is going to suit him," Mata said.

"He will will have to fight his way through them to run on, as we expect him to be three or four back on the fence."

Hopes were high that Archie Senior, the winner of seven races from 18 starts, would have been competitive in the elite 1600 metre features last spring but he failed to train on.

"He just didn't come up last time," Mata said.

"Obviously we did have aspirations of Group One 1600-metre races for him after he won a stakes race (Auckland Racing Club Hcp) over 1600 metres impressively at Moonee Valley last April, but after his first-up run in the spring he raced flat.

"We only gave him three runs and turned him out in October to give him a long spell."

Archie Senior's only unplaced first-up run was last spring when he was beaten 2-1/2 lengths in finishing fourth to Bon Hoffa who went on to to win the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

Steven Arnold will ride Archie Senior who is $9 with TAB Sportsbet while Peter Mertens will combine with Escadaire ($13).

by Robert Windmill - AAP Racing

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