Master O'Reilly primed to peak for Cup defence

Master O'Reilly, seeking to become the third horse in 131 years to win back-to-back Caulfield Cups, is yet to peak.

That is the bold declaration from trainer Danny O'Brien after Master O'Reilly's surging second in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.

O'Brien said Master O'Reilly emerged unscathed from a run that firmed his odds to $8.50 in the Caulfield Cup on October 18.

"He's got good improvement in him out of that run. That will bring him to his top for the Caulfield Cup," O'Brien said. "He's happy and he's ready to go."

Only Poseidon in 1906-07 and Rising Fast in 1954-55 have won in successive years.

O'Brien said Master O'Reilly's performance was confirmation that the six-year-old is among Australia's top stayers.

He said the conservative approach taken with Master O'Reilly this year had set up the gelding for a genuine shot at the Cups double.

"The secret to these big races is to get them right at the right time," O'Brien said.

"We have taken a conservative approach with him. We know he is only suited to a Caulfield Cup and hopefully the Melbourne Cup.

"We took the decision after the Melbourne Cup last year that we didn't want to run this horse in races that he's not suited.

"Every day since Melbourne Cup day has been about getting him back.

"Obviously, we were disappointed in his Melbourne Cup run last year (eighth), but it may have been one run too many."

Master O'Reilly, the $3.80 favourite last year, has raced only three times in 2008.

He had one run in autumn, resumed in the Makybe Diva and then entered the Turnbull Stakes.

"If you look at every run this horse has had from 2000-2400m they are outstanding," O'Brien said.

"He's a very, very good stayer. The shine went off his Caulfield Cup win because of what happened to Maldivian.

"I think he answered on Saturday the question that if Maldivian had started he would have beaten him. He ran the second fastest Caulfield Cup time ever.

"I had been saying all week that I thought he would run in the first three. If he didn't, I didn't think he could win the Caulfield Cup.

"His run in the Craiglee (sic Makybe Diva) was spot on and with a genuine tempo. I knew he would be hitting the line strongly."

Douro Valley, runner-up behind his stablemate in last year's Caulfield Cup, will run in the Yalumba Stakes.

Gallopin, unsuited by the heavy ground at Randwick, will run in the Moonee Valley Cup.

O'Brien said Lords Ransom had returned to Perth while Barbaricus will run in Sunday's Cranbourne Cup.

By Adrian Dunn

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Photo by Bruno Cannatelli, to view Bruno's website click here