Douro's Group 1 has O'Brien in familiar territory

It has been far from a similar build-up to last year's Caulfield Cup, but trainer Danny O'Brien said the result may be exactly the same after Douro Valley showed he was in career-best form with a fighting win in the Group 1 Yalumba Stakes.

Just a week ago, O'Brien happily watched as his Caulfield Cup winner of last year, Master O'Reilly, steamed home to be runner-up in the Turnbull Stakes and yesterday he said he could again quinella the cup with the same two horses when last year's runner-up, Douro Valley, snared his first Group 1 success.

"I think they are both going better than they were last year, but they've both got more weight so they would want to be," he said. "From where I stand, I couldn't be happier going into next week's race. They are both right there again."

After a daring ride from James Winks, which saw him take off at the 1000-metre mark to take over the pace from Casual Pass, Douro Valley ($41) kicked clear on straightening and held off all challengers.

He won by a neck from Pompeii Ruler ($2.40 favourite), with a short-half-head to Guillotine ($6) in third place. A half-length further away fourth was the former Kiwi galloper C'est La Guerre.

"It's much different to 12 months ago when these horses had to be up and running early in the spring to earn their places in the Caulfield Cup field through races like the Naturalism and Winning Edge," O'Brien said.

"This year, we've been allowed to take them along a lot slower because they were already qualified for the race and here they both are a week out from the race in great form."

By Andrew Eddy

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Photo by Age photographer Vince Caligiuri

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