Rios to step out in Aurie's Star

Flemington trainer Danny O'Brien is hoping to get a guide to the spring prospects of Rios when he makes his debut for the stable in Saturday's Aurie's Star Handicap.

The talented kiwi, formerly prepared by Murray and Bjorn Baker, has been sent to O'Brien in the hope he can improve his stallion prospects over the coming months.

The Hussonet five-year-old is a six-time winner from just 20 career starts, including the Group 2 Thoroughbred Breeders Guineas at Wellington.

As a three-year-old he had an autumn campaign in Australia, finishing a narrow second in the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes before running eighth in last year's Group 1 AJC Derby behind fellow Kiwi Nom Du Jeu.

A half-brother to this year's AJC Derby winner Roman Emperor, Rios is among entries for the Cox Plate but O'Brien feels his best may be over a slightly shorter journey.

“He's among the Cox Plate entries but I'd say a race like the Toorak would be ideal for him,” O'Brien said.

“He came to us to try to improve his record here over the spring and if he were to win a Group 1 it would make him commercial.”

Rios will kick off his spring campaign in Saturday's Listed Aurie's Star Handicap, down the straight 1200m track.

Rios has a good fresh-up record with three wins from five starts but all three have been over 1400m.

“We're very happy with him. He's a good looking stallion. He'll kick off this Saturday but whether he can match it with Australian sprinters over 1200m remains to be seen.

“We'll know more about which way to go with him after seeing him on Saturday.”

O'Brien has four entries for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups but rates Vigor and Master O'Reilly as his best chances.

Vigor, a winner of seven of his 15 starts, is nominated for Saturday's Aurie's Star but will kick off at Caulfield the following week.

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