Danny O’Brien happy with racebook omen, Mark Zahra gets double

Trainer Danny O’Brien leaving an earlier hearing. Photo: Vince CaligiuriFlemington trainer Danny O’Brien has spent the week at the RAD board as one of the key figures in the long-running cobalt saga, so to simply step out on a race track in the summer sunshine to saddle up a handful of runners with live chances must have felt like a huge relief.

Whatever his off-track travails, O’Brien has always presented as a cool character on course, and he was no different on Saturday when he welcomed back the lightly raced – and well-backed – Tyrannize, who scored comfortably under Ben Melham in the benchmark Lanec Handicap for three-year-olds at headquarters.

O”Brien joked that he knew his luck was in when he arrived at Flemington and picked up the race book which had a photograph of a horse carrying Rupert Legh’s navy blue with yellow lightning bolt colours on the front cover, so he was happy to take it as a positive omen for the son of O’Reilly’s prospects.

Punters agreed, the gelding being backed into a starting price of $7, having opened at $10.

“He’s the first horse we have had for Rupert, we have always had a good opinion of him even before this campaign. He’s two for two now as a gelding and we are starting to see some of that ability out on the track,” he said.

“I was very surprised at his price, I thought he would probably be near favourite on his earlier form. The bookies don’t always get it right, I thought he was a 3-1 or 4-1 chance, it looks like they have taken some of the odds that were on offer.”

Englishman Sam Pritchard-Gordon is one of a number of young trainers from the UK and Ireland now calling Australia home and he is steadily making a name for himself.

Having city winners always helps, and he did so with the progressive mare A Lotta Love, the $2.90 favourite, who took out the Lola and Trish’s Handicap in the hands of Mark Zahra. It was the first leg of a double the jockey completed aboard the front running Crimson Cape ($6.50) for the Robert Smerdon stable in the Plenary Group Handicap two hours later.

A Lotta Love’s win came with a sad postscript, however. One of the mare’s part owners, Tom Thring, died in Queensland last Wednesday, so his colleagues dedicated this triumph to their friend’s memory.

Russell Boyd, one of the winning owners, said : “He was just a very dear friend of ours. It was very emotional for me, and great for his family watching in Brisbane. it was very sudden. He had cancer and had complications. He was only 61. He was in a couple of horses with us, and he would have been in a lot more.”

Pat Carey and Rhys McLeod are a long-established combination and the Mornington-based pair struck early in the day when Shakesperean Lass defied a betting drift from $10 to $13 to take out the First Response Pharmacy Trophy over 1000 metres down the straight.

McLeod had the daughter of Written Tycoon well balanced and lying close to the pace all the way and she was good enough to score by a length-and-three-quarters from the topweight Tykiato.

Carey believes that now she has proved she can perform down the straight there will be other opportunities for the four-year-old as she works up from a low rating.

“Credit to Rhys, we took the visors off her and he gave her a great ride. She hit the line strongly. We have always had a good opinion of her, she has always displayed good ability.”

The Hawkes stable doesn’t often back up horses within seven days so punters who read the formguide ahead of the Western Health Adamo Cafe Cup might have taken the tip when they saddled up Longeron just six days after his disappointing effort at Traralgon last Sunday – especially as it was their only runner of the day.

Despite giving Patrick Moloney a torrid time the front-runner made every post a winning one to score as a $4.60 chance.

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