Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare's trainer Danny O'Brien knows the horse will need to improve substantially to repeat his heroics this year.

But the horseman is keen to follow a similar path to give the son of Declaration of War every chance to become the first repeat winner since the great mare Makybe Diva.

Vow And Declare went into the 3200-metre Cup as a lightly raced four-year-old having had just 12 starts, and he was carrying 52 kilograms, a light weight for a modern day Cup.

This time around he will be saddled with a heavier burden and he will once again have a flotilla of well-credentialled imports to beat.

Whether he will have improved at the rate that his rivals do remains open to question, but O'Brien is hopeful that given time to grow, strengthen and mature, Vow And Declare will be up to the mark for this year's Cup.

The horse stamped himself as the best locally bred stayer when he not only beat the English and Irish raiders Prince of Arran, Il Paradiso and Master of Reality at Flemington but also ran second to Japanese star Mer De Glace in the Caulfield Cup, his lead-up race.

"He's great, he's furnished a bit more, he's an autumn four-year-old now and we have been really pleased with him.

"He galloped in Geelong, he had a quiet trial at Cranbourne [last] Tuesday. He will jump out again at Flemington in a couple of weeks and if I am happy with him potentially bowl him around in the Australian Cup on March 7," the trainer said.

"That will be his first-up run for 2020, but it will end in November like it did last year.

"He will probably run in the Queen Elizabeth in Sydney and then go to Queensland for a couple of months where he will probably run in that Q22 [a new $1 million race to be run over 2200 metres on Stradbroke Day] and the Tatts Cup again, then he will be back here for the Turnbull and the same approach to last year.

"We won't try to be any cleverer than we [were] last year. We can look clever but like most things in racing it's a fine, sliding-door thing. You can look clever or stupid depending on how the luck falls."

O'Brien said the horse is a more imposing animal now than he was four months ago.

"He is about 30 kilos bigger and stronger than last year.

"Even in the spring, four-year-olds, particularly staying horses, are nowhere near the finished article and I do think there is more to come with him. As a Melbourne Cup winner if you don't improve three or four lengths, you don't win again.

O'Brien said the program in Brisbane, with the warmer weather and the chance to keep the galloper ticking over during the Melbourne winter, worked so well it was worth repeating.

"Vow will be up there for six or eight weeks. It's more for the perspective of just being able to run the horse.

"If you stay at home here the last run you can have for a horse of his profile is probably March or April but if you get on the road you can run again and still have residual fitness from a race you contested at the end of June. It's a lot less complicated to tick them over through to the spring."

O'Brien said he was taking things slowly with his potentially top line staying three-year-old Russian Camelot, who has won a Ballarat maiden and then run second in a listed 1800 metre three-year-old race at his two starts.

"I am still toying with him. His main aim is the SA Derby and we have a bit of time towards that."

By Michael Lynch for The Age

Pic by Racing Photos