O'Brien runners need luck after Cup draw

When the gates were drawn on Wednesday for Saturday's $2.5 million Caulfield Cup, Flemington trainer Danny O'Brien was caught in two minds.

On the one hand he had his former winner, Master O'Reilly, ticking over nicely with a last-start fourth in the Yalumba Stakes at Caulfield last weekend, draw gate 18.

While that didn't concern the trainer, O'Brien couldn't maintain the enthusiasm when one-time Caulfield Cup favourite Vigor, pictured swimming above, came up with the outside alley.

''I'm very happy with both of my horses, they couldn't have had better preparations,'' he said yesterday. ''But the gate for Vigor poses a problem. It is far from ideal. We'll have no option but to go forward with no weight on his back and rely on luck.''

With Master O'Reilly, O'Brien said ''the barrier doesn't matter'' as he will settle off the speed like he did when defeating stablemate Douro Valley in the race two years ago.

O'Brien is nearing completion of his Barwon Heads property that he said would complement his Flemington operation.

In taking a similar approach to that of trainer Lee Freedman, who developed a training complex on the Mornington Peninsula, O'Brien said the Barwon Heads base, about 1.5 hours from Melbourne, near Torquay, would be a boost for his already flying team.

''It gives us another dimension,'' he said. ''We can get a lot of work done with the horses on the property and then move them to Flemington. We've been using it for the past few months but it is not at full capacity as of yet. The tracks were finished there in the middle of the year so we are able to work horses there but it will be fully operational in the coming few months.''

Corey Brown will partner Vigor while Vlad Duric, who is now based in Singapore, is on Master O'Reilly.

''It's good to have Vlad on the horse,'' said O'Brien. ''He won the cup on him a couple of years ago and knows the horse so well. And he rode him last weekend in the Yalumba and it was a great cup trial.''

O'Brien will start promising filly Rachine in the Arrowfield Plate and lightly raced colt Savaging in the Jayco Stakes. ''Rachine is a former New Zealander, a real nice filly in the making,'' he said. ''And Savaging is a Savabeel colt that has only had two starts but shows plenty of promise.''

Glam Slam resumes from a spell in the Pure Blonde Plate for O'Brien.

''She's another former Kiwi, she's only had the two starts for me but she's shown plenty,'' said the trainer. ''I expect her to run well, too.''

Story by John Schell, to view full Sydney Morning Herald story click here

Photo by Vince Caligiuri

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