Cups arsenal strengthens for O'Brien

Danny O'Brien's strong hand for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups has become even more powerful with the acquisition of two exciting stayers.

O’Brien has picked up the former Aidan O'Brien-trained Alexander Of Hales, runner-up in the Irish Derby, and Lords Ransom, the best performed stayer in Western Australia.

Alexander Of Hales, part-owned by Paul Makin of Starcraft fame, and Lords Ransom, owned by Bob Peters of Congressman fame, are already in work at O'Brien's Flemington stables.

They join Caulfield Cup winner Master O'Reilly, Caulfield Cup runner-up Douro Valley and Gallopin, winner of the Bagot Handicap.

Alexander Of Hales, a son of Danehill from a Sadler's Wells' mare, is the most intriguing of the five. The five-year-old by Australian standards has won two of six starts - a Group 3 race over 2000m at the Curragh and a maiden at Naas.

At his last start in July last year, Alexander Of Hales finished second, nine lengths behind Soldier Of Fortune.

Several horses that finished behind Alexander Of Hales have since won group races around the world.

Danny O'Brien said Alexander of Hales was a nice horse, with the scope to be a significant spring player.

He said the horse, who American bloodstock agent Dave Bernsen had bought, "ticked a lot of boxes for me".

"He's by Danehill, he's lightly raced, he's a young horse and he's very sound," O'Brien said.

Alexander Of Hales will start his spring campaign in either next month's Liston Stakes or with Master O'Reilly in the Craiglee Stakes.

Lords Ransom, a winner of seven of his 10 starts, including the past four from 1600m to 2400m, is considered the most exciting stayer in WA.

At his most recent starts, Lords Ransom won the Bunbury and Pinjarra Cups in effortless fashion.

O'Brien said there was much to like about Lords Ransom, a son of Melbourne Cup winner Jeune.

"He should still be on an upward plane," he said. "We're really pleased with how he's going.

"All the horses are on the right progression. The Cups are still a long way off, but they are the races you want to be involved in during the spring."

Master O'Reilly and Gallopin are also back in work.

By Adrian Dunn

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