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Santiago to lead O'Brien's Melbourne Cup team


Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

There are very few glaring omissions on Aidan O'Brien's glittering training CV and Irish Derby hero Santiago looks set to spearhead a strong Ballydoyle squad heading into quarantine as he hopes to finally land his first Melbourne Cup in November. 

O'Brien's sextet will quarantine for 14 days in Ireland before departing for the Melbourne Spring Carnival with 2019 Epsom Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck also set to board the plane Down Under after narrowly defeating Stradivarius in the Prix Foy at Longchamp last Sunday.

The globetrotting mare Magic Wand - which landed her maiden Group One in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington last year - and impressive Leopardstown winner Tiger Moth are also on track along with Irish Champion Stakes third Armory and Group Two scorer Wichita.

O'Brien, who has not attended "the race that stops a nation" since being summoned back to the track by stewards following the 2008 running, is one of a handful of European trainers, along with his son Joseph, that must place his horses in quarantine by today in order to travel to Melbourne on October 2.

O'Brien's brigade will then be free to race from Caulfield Cup Day on October 17 where Anthony Van Dyck has been allocated a hefty weight of 58.5kg, the same burden he would carry in the Melbourne Cup should he take his place.

Stablemates Santiago (53.5kg) and Tiger Moth are both prominent in the betting with the former doing his chances of making the cut no harm with his impressive Group Three success on Saturday at Leopardstown bumping him up from 50kg to 52.5kg.

Meanwhile, Jessica Harrington has bolstered her ranks even further with talented four-year-old King Of Comedy set to continue his career at her Kildare yard having been being transferred from John Gosden.

The connections of last year's Juddmonte International Stakes fourth, owned by Lady Bamford, are keen to freshen up the Kingman colt and it is hoped that a switch to Harrington's Moone stables will work the oracle.

Elsewhere, Colin Keane (60 winners) maintained his red-hot form in the saddle with a Tipperary double yesterday to close the gap on championship leader Shane Foley (68).

Irish Independent