Dubai appeals to Victorian trainers

Danny O’Brien will take the lead of fellow trainer Tony Noonan and race some of his better-performed horses, including Master O’Reilly and Barbaricus, in Dubai next year.

Trainer Danny O'Brien after his horse Master O'Reilly had won the Caulfield Cup, following the sensational injury and withdrawal of race favourite Maldivian on Saturday 20 October 2007.  He was ridden by Vlad Duric.  Photo by Bronwen Healy/ O’Brien said he was attracted to racing in Dubai because of the lucrative prizemoney on offer. He travelled there last week to check out the facilities.

"Our racing has been stagnant for the last five years and to keep your business going you have look overseas to get a better return for your owners," said the Flemington trainer, who has Douro Valley engaged in the Hong Kong International Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday week.

"Our racing is really struggling now and some other spots around the world are going really well so you have to have a look at them."

He intends to set 2007 Caulfield Cup winner Master O’Reilly and 2008 Caulfield Cup third placegetter Barbaricus for the Sheema Classic, a 2400-metre turf race worth $7.7 million and run on World Cup night on March 28.

He said Master O’Reilly would run in the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 7 before being flown to Dubai, whereas Barbaricus would leave earlier for suitable lead-up races.

"He’ll probably head up there for the start of the carnival and have two or three lead-up runs into (the Sheema Classic) as his rating would allow him to do," O’Brien said.

Valedictum could also make the trip for suitable races.

"In the lead up to the World Cup meeting they have 10-weeks of racing and a lot of what we’d class as Listed or Group Three class races worth between $US150,000 to $US200,000 which is probably where Valedictum is now," O’Brien said.

"He is probably a length short of the Group One races here and those were the races Tony Noonan’s horses were very competitive in so he could go as a travelling companion for Barbaricus."

Noonan sent two horses to Dubai in 2007 with Benedetti winning two of his three starts there and Smart And Mighty one of his three appearances.

The Tony Vasil-trained Elvstroem became the first Australian-trained horse to win in Dubai when he led all the way in the Dubai Duty Free (1777m) in 2005 with Nash Rawiller in the saddle.
By Mark Ryan