Russian Camelot. Picture: Brenton Edwards
Russian Camelot. Picture: Brenton Edwards

No roulette as O’Brien aims Russian at Cox Plate

Danny O'Brien will target the Cox Plate as Russian ­Camelot's main spring goal and then will assess a start in the Melbourne Cup.

All of O'Brien's big guns are back in work at Barwon Heads after King Of Leogrance ­returned from a spell at ­Macedon Lodge.

He joined Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare, VRC Oaks winner Miami Bound and South Australian Derby winner Russian Camelot at the stables.

O'Brien said the Cox Plate would be the race Russian Camelot would be aimed at and they would make a decision on the Melbourne Cup after that.

"There's a lot of hype about him and he's an exciting horse, but the bottom line is that all he has done so far is win a South Australian Derby. That's a long way from a Cox Plate standard," O'Brien said.

He said the plan was for Russian Camelot to return in the 1600m Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington on September 12 and from there he would be able to see whether the colt would measure up to a Cox Plate start.

Russian Camelot has had only five starts and won three of them. He is $11 joint favourite for the Cox Plate and $9 Melbourne Cup favourite with TAB.

O'Brien said Vow And ­Declare would follow the same path as last year to the Melbourne Cup with the Turnbull Stakes and Caulfield Cup his lead-up races.

"He's been back in work a couple of weeks and he looks terrific. I think he'll be an improved horse next spring,'' the trainer said.


Trainer Danny O'Brien. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin
Trainer Danny O'Brien. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin




O'Brien said Miami Bound had been back in work for a few weeks and would be ready to return in the 1400m Memsie Stakes at Caulfield at the end of August. O'Brien assessed her two autumn runs as plain but said she wasn't suited by firm tracks.

"Her best form was on softer tracks last spring and hopefully she'll get them again and we'll be in a better position to assess where she's at," he said.

O'Brien's two-year-old colt Flying Award, who won his last start over 1400m at Flemington on Anzac Day, has ­returned to work and is being aimed at the Caulfield ­Guineas.


Moonee Valley Racing Club is hoping to keep the prizemoney for this year's Cox Plate at $5 million.

MVRC chief executive ­Michael Browell said the club was also hoping it could retain the Ladbrokes bonus of $1 million if the Cox Plate winner also landed one of 13 earlier Victorian feature races.

He said he would love to have international horses in the Cox Plate, but travel restrictions would not be known until September or October.

Racing Victoria will make an announcement on prizemoney at the end of this month.

It rejected an MVRC ­request to move the Moir Stakes and Manikato Stakes forward as lead-ins to The Everest. Those races stay on September 25 and October 23.

Australian Trainers' Association chief Andrew Nicholl hoped prizemoney might be restored to pre-COVID-19 levels before September 30, the date RV planned to end its prizemoney survival package to keep stakes at 80 per cent of normal for metro races and 90 per cent for country events.

***Apprentice Kiran Quilty was taken to Dandenong Hospital after a fall on The Real Wasabi at Pakenham. Victorian Jockeys' Association chief executive Matt Hyland said Quilty had suffered concussion and would stay in hospital overnight.


Originally published as No roulette as O'Brien aims Russian at Cox Plate