Douro begins mission to go one better

Last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Douro Valley begins his campaign to go one better in 2008, in the Memsie Stakes on Saturday.

The ultra-consistent gelding provided trainer Danny O’Brien with the quinella in the 2007 Cup behind stablemate Master O’Reilly and on Saturday he steps out for the first time this campaign in the 1400m event.

In a hot race, Douro Valley, to be ridden by regular rider James Winks, has drawn barrier 3 in a field which includes boom gallopers Weekend Hussler, Tuesday Joy, Maldivian and Pompeii Ruler.

O’Brien believes the Group 2 feature is an ideal starting point to kick-off his 2008 spring campaign.

“The horse has come back in terrific order and we are looking forward to his campaign this spring,” O’Brien said.

Douro Valley tends to be the forgotten horse of the stable within media circles given the bigger name Cups contenders the 7-year-old shares O’Brien’s Flemington barn with, however the trainer does not underestimate his stable stalwart.

“He has probably flown under the radar a bit, but for the past 12 months his performances have been very consistent at the highest level,” O’Brien said.

Last spring Douro Valley won the listed Naturalism Stakes before running fourth in the Group 1 Turnbull, second in the Caulfield Cup, sixth in the Mackinnon Stakes and finally 11th in the Melbourne Cup.

He then returned in the autumn in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes, before running third in the St George and fourth in the Group 1 Australia Cup.  The Encosta De Lago gelding finished his campaign with a credible sixth behind Tuesday Joy in the Group 1 BMW at Rosehill.

“If he can continue to keep his consistency, he will be very competitive and if things go to plan we hope he is fighting out the finish of the Caulfield Cup again.”

Douro Valley is one of four O’Brien runners on Saturday with Sparkling Satine, La Chasseuse and three-year-old filly La Voile Rouge in action at the Heath, while classy grey Barbaricus is fourth emergency for the final race on the card.

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