Irish Derby runner-up to make Aussie debut

Trainer Danny O'Brien will unveil his Irish Derby runner-up Alexander Of Hales at Caulfield this Saturday, but isn't anticipating any spring fireworks.

Alexander Of Hales has not raced since his second in the Irish Derby - admittedly beaten nine lengths by Soldier Of Fortune - at The Curragh in July last year. The Danehill stallion has been with O'Brien since April and the trainer likes what he has seen.

"He's not a one-paced stayer. He's shown the dash common to so many of the Danehill horses," O'Brien said.

"He's done a fair bit of work including a good trial at Werribee last week but I do expect a lot of improvement from this run.

"I'll probably keep him around a mile in the spring and I expect to see the best of him in the autumn."

Alexander Of Hales will be bumping into hot opposition in Saturday's Liston Stakes over 1400m. Poor Melbourne weather is threatening to compromise Light Fantastic's preparation for his Liston clash with Weekend Hussler.

If the rain continues, trainer Mick Price may switch from a planned trial on the Caulfield steeple grass to a gallop on the course proper.

"It won't be ideal if he has to go into the Liston without going to the barriers this preparation. You can't beat a stimulating trial to bring them up," Price said.

"But this is a starting point. I'm more worried about the full spring campaign."

Weekend Hussler is pleasing his trainer, Ross McDonald, who trialled the ruling Caufield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup favourite at Caulfield last week and will give him a solid gallop tomorrow morning.

The Liston also will be the spring launching pad for Maldivian, who looked sharp in a gallop between races at Flemington on Saturday.

O'Brien has a powerhouse spring team with Bagot Handicap winner Gallopin and impressive West Australian Lords Ransom - a new addition to the stable, joining Master O'Reilly and Douro Valley as Cups contenders.

Gallopin boasts a similar record to Master O'Reilly last year as he approaches the build up to the Cups.

The Pins five-year-old had only one autumn run for a third over 1600m at Flemington on Anzac Day.

Prior to that, Gallopin won four straight including the Bagot over 2500m on New Year's Day.

Lords Ransom also won four straight in the west including the Bunbury and Pinjarra Cups in March before a winter break and his transfer to O'Brien.

Lords Ransom will open his spring campaign at Moonee Valley on Saturday week.

By Bart Sinclair

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