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OTI have presence on international scale this weekend

Saturday will present OTI and our partners with our busiest day of the year to date, as we go racing at four meetings with eight horses, across both sides of the globe.

Four runners line up at Flemington in black type affairs as part of Australian Guineas Day, including Night’s Watch (Damien Oliver – barrier two) and Gallic Chieftain (Damian Lane – barrier one). Both will contest the G2 Blamey Stakes over 1600m (Race 8 – 4:50pm AEDT).

Night’s Watch hurt his chances in the G1 C.F. Orr first up after stepping away slowly. All indications since are the horse is in excellent order and we expect him to be prominent in the finish. Gallic Chieftain begins his autumn preparation and although likely to find his rivals a touch sharp over the mile, we expect him to warm up late and attack the line en route to staying features.

Earlier in the day, High Bridge (Dwayne Dunn – barrier five) will take his place in the Listed Roy Higgins Quality (Race 2 – 1:10pm AEDT) and is looking to bounce back after being unsuited at Caulfield when faced with soft conditions and a slow tempo. He is sure to enjoy returning to Flemington after his resounding victory over a similar distance on January 18.

Benitoite (Damien Oliver – barrier six) is seeking her first success at group level when she steps out second-up in the G3 Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m). In the field of ten, there looks to be good speed and if Oliver can secure an economical run the Clinton McDonald trained four-year-old has the ability to let down powerfully.

At Ellerslie, Karaka Million 3YO Classic placegetter, Hasstobegood, returns to the races for the first time in a month in the Listed Mufhasa Stakes over 1300m (Race 7 – 1:55pm AEDT, 3:55pm local). Vinnie Colgan will again partner Hasstobegood after being on board in the Million. Drawn well in barrier six, with even luck in the run she should be right in contention at the business end.

Attorney (barrier nine) has taken benefit from his first-up run and will derive further improvement after he races over 2000m at Randwick in a BM88 (Race 8 – 5:10pm AEDT). His effort to close the race off over a trip well short of his best two weeks ago was very encouraging as he looks to build through the months ahead.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, our partners will be represented by two performers with internationally recognized credentials, in Downdraft & True Self.

Both horses are engaged in one of the night’s features, the US$2.5M Longines Turf Handicap (3000m). The Joseph O’Brien trained Downdraft has drawn barrier nine for Ryan Moore with True Self (Willie Mullins) to start from barrier twelve under Frankie Dettori.

It proves to be an incredible experience for those connections who have travelled over for the event and those eagerly tuning in from home.

We wish all the very best of luck with their racing interests this weekend.

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O’Brien goes in search of further global glory

Melbourne Cup winning trainer Joseph O’Brien now has his eyes on another major global prize as he prepares to run both Downdraft and Twilight Payment in the US $2,500,000 Longines Turf Handicap at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack on Saturday.

The 26-year-old former champion jockey has made a major impression in the training ranks since his retirement from the saddle and has already managed to win Group 1 races in Ireland, England, Australia and America in less than four years. Now attention turns to Saudi Arabia where O’Brien will have three runners on the inaugural Saudi Cup evening with Speak In Colours also set to represent him in the US $1,000,000 stc 1351 Cup.

Being a son of Ireland’s perennial champion trainer, Aidan O’Brien, it is no surprise that training racehorses was a route taken by Joseph, however, such success in a short space of time would have surpassed all expectations.

Downdraft and Twilight Payment both ran in the Melbourne Cup on their last start but the former won a Group 3 in Flemington on the same day that O’Brien won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf with Iridessa back in November. O’Brien certainly has the owners that match his own ambition of travelling to the best races in the world.

“We are very lucky to have the owners and the horses to travel to these races,” O’Brien said from his County Kilkenny training yard on Wednesday morning. “The world is a small place nowadays and you can have a crack at any race in the world if you have the horse. As soon as this race day was launched and we had a look at the races and we were keen to have a few runners.”

World-renowned jockey Ryan Moore will ride Downdraft in the Longines Turf Handicap, while Wayne Lordan rides Twilight Payment and the trainer reports both horses to have travelled over to Saudi Arabia well this week.

“All of the horses travelled good and seem to be in good shape. Downdraft had good form in Australia and he has had a good prep before heading out to Saudi Arabia,” O’Brien continued.

“We’ll just be hoping for a good draw for both horses now. We’ve been happy with Twilight Payment here at home and the course conditions should suit him.

“With those type of staying horses pot hunting is key throughout the year so we knew they’d fit the bill for the Longines Turf Handicap. Wherever the best prize money is that is where we try to target for all of our horses and that’s why we are there.”

O’Brien has not only assembled an enviable team of horses which bring him to the very best Flat races but also he was quick to snap up English Grand National winning trainer Brendan Powell once Powell decided to end his own training career.

Powell is in Saudi Arabia to oversee the preparations and he has nothing but admiration for O’Brien.

“I have never known anyone to work like Joseph,” Powell said. “I think he must have a photographic memory because he remembers the form of all the horses and their breeding and everything about them. He has 120 people working there and it is a very young and enthusiastic team, but the results have proven that he can do it. He’s definitely his father’s son.”

Credit: Associated media – The Saudi Cup (www.thesaudicup.com)

Images: Jockey Club of Royal Saudi Arabia/Doug De Felice

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Quick Thinker holds autumn audition at Hastings

Quick Thinker will provide a greater indication of what lay ahead for him this campaign when he steps out second-up at Hastings over 1400m today (Race 2 – 12:43pm AEDT, 2:43pm local). Leading Kiwi hoop Opie Bosson will take the reins on the son of So You Think for the first time.

In a clash featuring several promising three-year-old’s, last year’s winner of the G3 Ming Dynasty at Rosehill is looking to show that a return trip to Sydney could well be on the cards.

Quick Thinker (barrier one) finished fourth upon resumption at Ellerslie on February 15 with the Baker Forsman camp seeing all they needed to after just one trial leading in. Having derived good benefit from the run, we head to Hastings confident he is right where he needs to be in order to fight out the finish.

At Sandown, Tigre Royale (barrier eleven) appears well suited when he tackles a 2400m BM64 (Race 4 – 5:20pm AEDT).

With runs three runs behind him, trainer Archie Alexander has patiently built up to the trip Tigre Royale dispensed of his maiden status at to the tune of seven lengths.

After hitting the line strongly at Warrnambool last start we are confident of a strong showing on the Hillside circuit.

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