Danny O'Brien Herald Sun Column - Solid pace to help my trio

Finally, today we can have some closure, albeit for 12 months, on the great us versus them Melbourne Cup debate.

It has raged for months, intensified in recent weeks as European heavyweights Aidan O'Brien, Luca Cumani and Dermot Weld rolled into town.

With them come some of the best-credentialled stayers. It will be a truly great Cup.

It's a daunting, even intimidating, challenge, but one I'm more than up for with my three horses.

While they may not have hogged the headlines like the Europeans, I'm bullish about the prospects of all three.

So, which is the best? Well, I'm happy to agree with how the bookies grade them -- Barbaricus, Master O'Reilly and Gallopin -- and all three are outstanding each-way value.

Everyone keeps telling me Barbaricus is the most improved horse going around, but people seem to forget he was a classy three-year-old.

Remember, he won the Stutt Stakes, ran fifth in the Caulfield Guineas after coming from last on the turn and was placed in the AAMI Vase when probably coming to the end of his tether.

It was no surprise to see him run third in the Caulfield Cup and second in the Mackinnon Stakes. They were runs of a very good horse who can definitely step up to the 3200m.

It was tough to see Master O'Reilly finish eighth last year as the $4 Cup favourite.

First thing we did the next day was plan to come back 12 months later for a better performance.

Central to that planning was having just one autumn run. It's a policy I've used with all my Cups horses.

After his great run in the Turnbull Stakes, "Master" got back in the Caulfield Cup and had to circle the field. Forget he went around in the Cox Plate, given the farcical pace.

He's going into the Cup ready to produce his best run.

We're pretty confident that when Master produces his best run, it is the performance of a high-class horse. He can definitely feature in the finish.

Purposefully, Gallopin was taken through restricted-class races last spring. His one staying win was in the Bagot Handicap.

After giving him the one run in the autumn, the target has always been the Cup.

We thought he could win The Metropolitan, but he hit a wet track, which he doesn't like. Gallopin responded by winning the Moonee Valley Cup.

It was a genuine staying performance and one that strongly suggested he can step up to 3200m at a track he loves.

Gallopin will be ridden conservatively from his poor draw to conserve his energy. We expect him to surge late.

There is talk that this Cup will be like no other with genuine speed from the start. That is certainly something all my horses will welcome.

Master O'Reilly's past two races have been thwarted by lack of pace. The quicker the tempo the better for him.

Barbaricus has had to lead at his past two runs because of the lack of suitable speed. He can enjoy a lovely trail from his favourable barrier. Bring on a solidly run race.

We've seen in recent years the internationals that run before the Cup are the ones that usually perform best.

Seeing is believing and what we saw in the Caulfield Cup was a desperately unlucky Mad Rush, who goes into the Cup without a rehandicap, plenty of upside and ridden by Damien Oliver. There's much to like about him.

It's a big query to go into the Melbourne Cup at your first run in the country. Plenty of reputations have been left in tatters.

You don't fluke winning Melbourne Cups. It is 12 months in the planning. I'm sure it's been on Aidan, Luca and Dermot's radar for that time. I know it's been on mine.

The Cup is such a great race, such a hard race to win, that it takes planning and teamwork from a stable. All my three are ready to peak on the biggest day of their careers.

It's a great Melbourne Cup, one for the ages. I'd love nothing more than to have my name added to its magnificent history.

By Danny O'Brien

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Photo by Colleen Petch, Herald Sun

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