Cup coup adds Vigor to the spring

Flemington trainer Danny O'Brien suspected Vigor may be the best horse to have passed through his stables when he won five races in a row over the summer months. But he did not want too many people to know it, especially the handicapper for this spring's feature cup races.

''We've never really tested him until today and hopefully now he's got some better races in store,'' a delighted O'Brien said yesterday. ''This [win] was very important as he had to claim a spot in the Caulfield Cup and now he's done that, so the pressure's off.''

Yesterday's Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes is the first race of the spring to provide the winner with a ballot-free run into next month's Caulfield Cup and O'Brien said he targeted the race as part of his plan to keep the horse away from the handicapper. ''That's why we didn't do too much with him in the autumn,'' he said.

''He's potentially the best horse I've trained. He's got a similar profile to horses like Master O'Reilly and Barbaricus but those two horses have not been able to win at weight-for-age so early in the spring.''

Vigor, who drifted in betting from $6.50 to $8.50, had a nose margin over the $2.60 favourite Typhoon Tracy on the line with 1¾ lengths to stablemate Master O'Reilly ($71) in third place.

Jockey Damien Oliver said Vigor did not have the easiest run. ''It was a great run second-up to a mile,'' he said. ''We were caught three-deep, although we had cover, and we probably got there [front] sooner than we wanted to. But he was very tough.''

O'Brien had another reason to smile as his 2007 Caulfield Cup winner Master O'Reilly showed a return to his best form when he flashed home late for third.

''That was his best ever first-up run,'' O'Brien said of the seven-year-old gelding, who has not won a race since his dominant cup victory two years ago.

By Andrew Eddy, to view full Sunday Age story click here

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

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