O'Brien's baby set to soar on debut

Trainer Danny O'Brien is hopeful the patience he showed in the sale ring in February this year will pay dividends at Flemington on Saturday when unraced juvenile Donna Cattiva makes her debut in the Spotless Plate.

O'Brien revealed yesterday that he had identified the filly, pictured here in trackwork, before the Karaka yearling sales in New Zealand as being the one he wanted, but had to endure a long wait and then an unexpected battle with another bidder before securing her.

"It was late in the sale and she was the one filly we really wanted and so did someone else, so we had to go a fair way to get her," he said.

"She was a really nice type and a sister to New Zealand's champion two-year-old [Il Quello Veloce] of two years ago, so there was plenty to like about her."

The $310,000 spent on the filly made her the most expensive progeny by the Pivotal stallion Captain Rio sold in the southern hemisphere. The previous highest price for a son or daughter of the sire was for VRC Oaks winner Brazilian Pulse who reached $220,000.

O'Brien said yesterday he had been happy with the investment. "She's done everything right since we've had her," he said. "She's done well in some jump-outs here at Flemington and had a few preparations to get her ready for this, so we're going to the races hopeful she can show us something.

"Obviously if she can go out and perform really well then there are any number of options for her in the autumn, but we're not getting too far in front of ourselves."

O'Brien will also run his professional placegetter Placement against the in-form western districts mare Let's Be Happy in the second race and is hopeful that the tiny mare can score.

"She's only won the one race but she hasn't run many bad ones either," he said. "She's only 15.1 [hands] and has found it tough just putting some of her races to bed, but she's pleasing us and does run well on her home track.

"She was placed in the VRC Oaks and has done most of her racing in either spring or in the autumn, so we thought we'd give her a summer campaign and see if she can get away with a race or two in the off-season."

Story by Andrew Eddy, to view full story on SMH website click here

Photo by Jo Catterall