O'Brien sees light on track

Danny O'Brien may well be the biggest winner from Racing Victoria's decision to re-schedule last Saturday's washed out features for tomorrow's Sandown meeting.

O'Brien will saddle hot favourites Star Witness (Manfred Stakes) and Cabeza (New Saturday Age Cup) in addition to Cape Canaveral (Chairman's Stakes), who gets the opportunity to earn valuable prizemoney after being among the best backed runners for the Blue Diamond last week.

"It's been a good result for everyone really," O'Brien said. "The track should be perfect by Wednesday at Sandown and all those horses need to run."

Blue Diamond and Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Star Witness needs racing to prepare him for the Australian Guineas on March 5, for which he is the favourite.

"It means he will have 10 days rather than 14 going into his second run, but I would probably rather run (tomorrow) on a decent surface than a bog last Saturday," O'Brien said.

"Considering what's happened I am more than happy. I'm not worried about the slight distance change (up to 1300m from 1200m) because he is heading towards the mile, so he's very forward."

Cape Canaveral, who like Star Witness is a son of Starcraft, is rated $6.50 for his debut in the Chairman's after heavy Blue Diamond backing last week.

"We have a good opinion of him but there's a big jump between having an opinion and the horse turning up on raceday," O'Brien said. "We're looking forward to running him and hopefully he shows us what we think he can."

Cabeza is expected to back up in next week's $300,000 Mornington Cup after tomorrow's 1800m assignment.

The trainer believes he can make a similar progression to that of Vigor, who emerged off summer form to be a WFA winner last season.

"He's a lightly raced four-year-old that's taking care of these off-season races pretty comfortably so we're hoping he might be a horse that turns up in the spring," O'Brien said.

"The making of him was when we gelded him after taking him to Brisbane last winter and he had a good break.

"He's a Zabeel so he was always going to get better as he's got older. If he can win the Mornington Cup, he gets direct entry into the Caulfield Cup this year so that would be a nice carrot for him."

Melbourne Racing Club yesterday had 20 nominations for the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes, for which Typhoon Tracy will again run a short-priced favourite.

The two Blue Diamond Preludes attracted a total of 42 nominations as connections scrambled to secure a start in Victoria's richest two-year-old race on February 26.

Trainer Mick Price is tipping further improvement from the unbeaten Holdontoyahorses, who tackles One Last Dance in the fillies' division.

"Training-wise she has been excellent," Price said. "It's just a question if she is good enough."

Story by Nathan Exelby, to view Courier Mail full story click here

Photo by Slickpix, to view Slickpix website click here

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