Danny O'Brien Herald Sun Column - Olympic-sized task for champ

Usain Bolt is one of the most exciting humans on the planet.

The Jamaican's explosive speed, as evidenced by his world record 9.69sec for the 100m and 19.30sec for the 200m at the Beijing Olympics, is something to behold.

For sheer exhilaration Bolt is on his own. But, could Bolt turn up at the London Olympics and win the 800-1500m double to add to his Beijing treasure trove? It's highly unlikely, if not improbable.

In my eyes that is the magnitude of task facing Weekend Hussler tomorrow as he embarks on the first leg of a spring treble - the BMW Caulfield Cup - aiming to add to a stunning CV that boasts the Oakleigh Plate/Newmarket Handicap sprint double from the autumn.

Weekend Hussler is an equine Usain Bolt.

He is an excitement machine. While he was not crowned sprinter of the year, few would disagree that Weekend Hussler has no peer from 1000m to 1600m. He is rightly the Australian Racehorse of the Year.

Tomorrow the champion sprinter-miler steps into unknown territory, taking on proven stayers at their own game. And if that is not a big enough assignment, Weekend Hussler has been saddled with the steadier of 57kg and has to give weight to all his rivals.

I applaud trainer Ross McDonald and connections for embarking on such a challenge. Venturing into the unknown is one of the intangibles that adds to the intrigue of racing.

It's been the talk of the town for weeks and will keep the turnstiles at Caulfield clicking and the turnover at the TABs spiralling.

Tomorrow he will be under attack from all quarters. I'm one of those standing in the opposing corner as I saddle up three cup runners - Master O'Reilly and Douro Valley, who provided me with a career highlight last season when they ran the Caulfield Cup quinella, and Barbaricus, who gains a start after the injury to Derby winner Kibbutz.

Can Master O'Reilly do what only two others - Poseidon in 1906-07 and Rising Fast in 1954-55 -- have accomplished in the past 100 years: win successive Caulfield Cups?

Obviously, it is not an easy task. History tells us that. Last year Master O'Reilly carried 50.5kg. If he had the same weight, I would be doing a Ross McDonald and telling punters to expand their property portfolio by having the house on him.

The reality is that he has to lump 56.5kg tomorrow, after all weights were raised 1.5kg.

But he is an outstanding 2400m horse. In the wash-up from last year's dramatic Caulfield Cup, the dominance of his win was a little overshadowed.

Master O'Reilly ran the second fastest time ever and had the race won halfway down the straight. I think he is an even better horse this year.

After the disappointment of his Melbourne Cup run, I gave him an old-fashioned spell. He spent the summer up at Cliff Brown's property at Narbethong and came back for one run in May.

He therefore began the spring refreshed, strong and well. I have deliberately given him only the two runs leading into tomorrow.

He ran very well in the Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600m and even better in the Turnbull when he got to 2000m. Those two runs have brought him to his top as he gets to his favoured 2400m.

His barrier won't be a problem as Vlad Duric will be looking for a spot in the back half of the field.

I think with even luck he can shoulder the 56.5kg and write himself into history.

Douro Valley enters tomorrow's race off his career-best win in last week's Yalumba Stakes. He has had his chest out all week on the track. He's never looked or felt better.

He has to find 2 1/2 lengths on The Master from last year but he meets him 3kg better. Any form analyst will tell you that is enough to swing the result.

Importantly, Douro Valley has drawn a gun barrier, three. James Winks will be able to give him the run of the race and, after holding off all challengers last week with 59kg, he won't know himself dropping to 53. I'm sure he will look the winner on straightening.

Barbaricus is jumping in the deep end. He has the outside barrier and will go around at bolter's odds. He doesn't read the tote screen, though, and has never finished further back than fifth, and that was to Weekend Hussler in last year's Guineas. He'll give you a cheeky sight.

Another intriguing sub-plot is the return of Maldivian to the scene of last year's heartbreak. I have always had doubts about him running a strong 2400m.

Douro Valley was able to get the better of him in last year's Naturalism at the end of 2000m, and his wins in the JRA Cup and Yalumba were both slowly run races.

For mine, the main dangers are Littorio and the pair that beat him in the AJC Derby, Kiwis Nom Du Jeu and Red Ruler. Littorio has had a great prep and was very good in the Turnbull.

The internationals have won only one Caulfield Cup, Taufan's Melody in 1998, but they have run some cracking races. Don't be surprised to see them do it again.

Tomorrow's race has all the ingredients that make it one of our great races. Weekend Hussler and Master O'Reilly both trying to write their own page of history and any number of potentially great stories.

I wonder have the same two horses ever gone back-to-back in the quinella. A Bolt out of the blue? Not necessarily.

By Danny O'Brien for the Herald Sun. 

To view the Racing section of the Herald Sun website click here

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

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