Thursday 26 April 2018

Aidan O'Brien's three-strong Melbourne Cup team departs for Australia

Aidan O’Brien
Aidan O’Brien

Aidan O'Brien's three-pronged attack on Australia's leading races stepped up a notch on Thursday as Highland Reel, Bondi Beach and Kingfisher set off on the journey Down Under.

Bondi Beach and Kingfisher will run in the Melbourne Cup - where they will be O'Brien's first runners in the 'race that stops a nation' since 2008 - while Highland Reel bids to give Ballydoyle a second Cox Plate.

O'Brien said: "Our three horses for Melbourne departed from Shannon airport this morning.

"Highland Reel, who has a similar profile to Adelaide, is being aimed at the Cox Plate. Bondi Beach and Kingfisher are both tough and genuine horses who we believe have the necessary class and stamina for the Melbourne Cup."

Like Bondi Beach and Kingfisher, runaway Irish St Leger winner Order Of St George has been bought into by four-time Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams, but a setback means he will not be running again until he returns as a four-year-old.

O'Brien said: "Order Of St George had a minor training setback and we've decided to put him away for next year."

Adelaide's Cox Plate success at Moonee Valley last year came under a tremendous ride by Ryan Moore as he got up to beat Fawkner by a short neck, while Bondi Beach has rarely been away from the headlines this season.

Hampered when second in the Great Voltigeur at York, he was bumped in the St Leger at Doncaster by Simple Verse and promoted to first place on the day, a decision subsequently reversed on appeal.

Second in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, Kingfisher was last seen finishing eighth to Order Of St George at the Curragh.

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