Danny O’Brien may have had several of his stable stars jumping out at Geelong on Wednesday morning, but the man who’s won all three of Melbourne’s majors couldn’t disguise his delight with the performance of 2019 Melbourne Cup hero, Vow And Declare.

“He was the star of the morning for mine,” O’Brien said.

“Damien Oliver, who’s been on him since he was a very young horse, was over the moon with him. He was sharp, he jumped and led his trial and just was very happy to be back. He’s had a long rehab since a minor tendon strain last spring, Lee Evison’s done a fantastic job for us rehabbing him and he’s very sound.

“That was his second trial, we couldn’t have been more pleased. Obviously, he’s a favourite for our stable and to see him do that this morning was really exciting.”

All being well, the rising seven-year-old could be back at Flemington for the race that stops the nation.

“I think it is one step at a time but we’re going to have the amount of time to get him there,” O’Brien said.

“He’ll just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing everything right. That would be a fairytale to get him back there but really promising signs this morning.”

Fellow stayer Young Werther also jumped out this morning, as he plots his path towards a return to the races this spring.

The son of Tavistock hasn’t raced since he finished eighth in last year’s Caulfield Cup, after he failed the mandatory CT scan ahead of the Melbourne Cup.

“He’s great,” O’Brien said.

“He didn’t have any acute issue other than Racing Victoria were able to pick it up on that CT scan, which was a real blessing for us that it didn’t develop into something.

“We ended up with Chris Whitton and Grace Forbes, following the plan they had for him, it’s been a real blessing for him. He’s come back a much stronger, more mature horse now.

“He was really good in the Turnbull last spring, and we’re excited about seeing him again this spring.”

The lightly raced four-year-old boasts placings in both the Victorian and Australian Derby’s, as well as his runner up effort to Incentivise in the 2021 Turnbull Stakes, but the best could still be ahead of him.

“He was a very immature three-year-old who did a great job to run so well in the VRC and the ATC Derby,” his trainer said.

“Obviously, he’s only had the three runs there as a four-year-old and spent the autumn in the paddock. He’s ready now, he’s matured into a lovely horse for the spring.” 

O’Brien said that Young Werther was likely to follow a similar path to last spring but added that he’s unlikely to be seen at Caulfield, given that hasn’t performed to his best there.

Promising two-year-old Let’srollthedice was also part of O’Brien’s jump out contingent on Wednesday morning.

The Dundeel colt took out the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes in the autumn before travelling to Sydney where he finished third in the ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes and fourth in the Champagne Stakes.

“He was good, just here to build a bit of fitness,” O’Brien said of his jump out.

“He’s had a little trip to Sydney there and ran well, that’s prepped him and seasoned him for the spring, so we’re excited by the improvement that he can make too.” 

Letsrollthedice is currently the $11 joint favourite with Sportsbet for the Victoria Derby, but O’Brien thinks he may be better suited in another three-year-old feature this spring.

“I’m not sure whether he’d get to the mile and a half,” he said regarding the Derby.

“He probably might be a bit sharp for that, but we’d like to see him certainly get to the Caulfield Guineas.”

Sportsbet has Letsrollthedice at $21 in its Caulfield Guineas market.

Story by Edward Sadler for Racing.com

Pic by Racing Photos