O'Brien has eyes on the cups

Danny O'Brien has plenty to look forward to again this spring and one of the reasons comes in the form of new acquisition Alexander Of Hales who will be part of the trainer's team heading to the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.

Previously with master Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien, Alexander Of Hales joined the Flemington-based O'Brien team earlier this year.

"He was purchased by a group to bring out here to race and obviously as a stallion prospect as well," Danny O'Brien said.

"He arrived here in April and we're looking forward to running him in the spring.

"He's had a good, long build up. He spent the first couple of months down at Kelvin Bourke's (at Drysdale on the BellarinePeninsula) and he's been back here at Flemington for six weeks.

"He trialled here on Friday and I'll run him first up in the Liston."

The Group Two Liston Stakes (1400m) is run at Caulfield on August 16.

The Danehill entire was a nine-length runner-up to former stablemate Soldier Of Fortune, with another former stablemate EagleMountain third in the Irish Derby (2414m) at the Curragh on July 1 last year.

Soldier Of Fortune went on to win the Coronation Cup (2424m) at Epsom last month, while EagleMountain, who was runner-up in the 2007 English Derby, was also runner-up in the Emirates Championship (2012m) at Newmarket last October.

Alexander Of Hales, who is out of the Sadler's Wells mare Legend Maker, has raced six times for two wins and three placings, his best win being in the Group Three Gallinule Stakes (2012m) at the Curragh in May last year.

Caulfield Cup winner Master O'Reilly will resume in the Group Two Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 6, while Caulfield Cup runner-up DouroValley will go first up into the Group Two Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30.

Bagot Handicap winner Gallopin and stable newcomer Lords Ransom will kick off in the 1600m handicap at Caulfield on August 16.

Lords Ransom, raced by Peters Investments Pty Ltd Syndicate, won seven of his 10 starts in Western Australia for trainer Adam Durrant including the 2007 Belmont Classic (2200m) and the 2008 Bunbury Cup (2200m) and Pinjarra Cup (2400m), each at Listed level.

Villain, who ran ninth over 1400m when second up at Caulfield, could also be Cups bound if he returns to his form of last spring.

He won the Super Impose Stakes (1800m) at Flemington, ran third in the Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield and fourth in the Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.

O'Brien said the colt had a virus in the autumn which led to him going to the spelling paddock after a first-up failure.


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Photo by Bruno Cannatelli.

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