Blue Diamond's 1200m no Tall order

Danny O'Brien yesterday warmed to winning back-to-back Blue Diamonds in the role of giant killer.

But as O'Brien talked up the chances of Running Tall, pinning much of his faith on the addition of blinkers, the Sepoy team was equally adamant it had the armoury to repel all comers - O'Brien included.

Paul Snowden, Melbourne foreman for father Peter O'Brien, described odds-on favourite Sepoy as "deadset 200 per cent" for tomorrow's $1 million feature event.

O'Brien has history on his side. Rancher in 1982 is the only one of four previous odds-on favourites to win the race.

O'Brien said the stretch to 1200m might expose a chink in Sepoy, who thrashed a game - but not yet blinkered - Running Tall in the Blue Diamond Prelude, pictured above.

Snowden wasn't fazed.

"The 1200m is not a query at all," he said. "In our eyes we can't have him any better. We can't wait."

O'Brien, who won the Diamond last year with $11 shot Star Witness, has history on his side. Rancher in 1982 is the only one of four previous odds-on favourites to win the race. Running Tall is likely to start almost double the price of Star Witness.

"Star Witness was undefeated going into the race and the colt is yet to win, but they are similar sorts of horses," he said.

"Take Sepoy out and we'd be a six or seven to one chance.

"He's (Running Tall) a colt we've always been waiting to put the blinkers on, and they go on tomorrow. We're very, very confident he's going to run well."

Sepoy defeated second-placed Running Tall by 3 1/2lengths in the Prelude.

"I think a lot of things can make up the difference," a hopeful O'Brien said.

"It's a big step in racing when two-year-olds step to 1200m for the first time.

"He looks bullet-proof, Sepoy, but our horse is going to run very well. He'll run the 1200m right out and give the favourite a run."

O'Brien was buoyed by jockey Ben Melham's firm decision to ride Running Tall over the Lee Freedman-trained debut winner Atomic.

Atomic is an $11 chance with TAB Sportsbet and with Running Tall firming to $19 after drawing barrier one.

At $1.55, Sepoy is poised to start the shortest priced Diamond favourite since Rancher won at $1.40 in 1982.

Snowden said Kerrin McEvoy would not be burdened with riding instructions, because Sepoy had race smarts.

He said McEvoy, whose only experience aboard Sepoy has been two track gallops, would have gleaned some information from Mark Zahra, who has ridden Sepoy to all of his three wins.

"I'm sure Kerrin has sussed Mark out aboyut every aspect of the horse," he said.

Story by Matt Stewart, to view full Herald Sun story click here

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


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