Spirits up despite wide draw for Douro

Trainer Danny O’Brien and jockey Darren Beadman remained upbeat about Douro Valley’s chances in Hong Kong on Sunday despite drawing the widest barrier in the 2400m feature.

After the draw, O'Brien was undeterred given the Group 1 winner lacks early speed and may have been at a greater disadvantage from an inside gate.

Last year's Caulfield Cup runner-up is a $12 chance in the $2.73m Hong Kong International Vase and O'Brien said the horse the noted frontmarker will have the opportunity to press forward under his own steam without getting caught up in traffic.

“There is an ample run to the first corner, which gives Douro Valley plenty of opportunity to get across and take up the running or sit in the first three.

"He takes a furlong (200m) to get going, so he would have been worse off from one," O'Brien said.

Race jockey Darren Beadman galloped the Flemington-trained stayer yesterday and was encouraged by the way he handled the corners, working in a clockwise direction, as opposed to his preferred Melbourne way of galloping (left-handed).

"He tracked very well on the right leg and he felt terrific to me. I think he'll be hard to beat," Beadman said.

"The mile and a half is going to be right up his alley considering he is a Caulfield Cup placegetter," he said.

"He's coming off a good run last start in the Sandown Classic behind Zipping and I've only ever had the one ride on him for one win in the Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield last year when he beat Maldivian, which came out and won the Cox Plate this year.

"The thing I like about Douro Valley is that his form's been pretty consistent all the way through and Danny probably could have gone to the Melbourne Cup with him, but instead he has set him for the Vase which is always a good sign.”

“It is certainly not an afterthought following a tough spring campaign."

Photo by Vince Caligiuri

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