Danny O’Brien doesn’t adhere to the norms of Australian training and that is why he’s happy to try to win the Victoria Derby with Young Werther at the horse’s third start.
Earlier this year, O’Brien showed he was capable of producing a similar feat when Russian Camelot claimed the South Australian Derby at his fifth start.
O’Brien is more of a European-style trainer and he is happy to put the miles into his horses legs at his Thirteenth Beach property without taking them to the races.
To underline what O’Brien is attempting to do, Daniel O’Sullivan from The Ratings Bureau tweeted that no horse in the past 20 years has run in a Victoria Derby at its third start.
He added that 31 went into the race having had four or five starts and of those, only five were rated among the top four in the market, with only one of those four managing a placing.
O’Brien is confident fitness won’t be an issue for Young Werther.
“He’s been working at Thirteenth Beach over the winter with my Melbourne Cup horses on the beach every day,” O’Brien said.
“He’s just as fit as my Melbourne Cup horses such as Russian Camelot and Vow And Declare, if not fitter.
“He’s fine for 2500 metres against his own age in the Derby.”
O’Brien said when Young Werther began his campaign, he didn’t expect him to get to a Victoria Derby as he thought he was more of an autumn horse.
“He ran so well at Geelong when he won his debut. Then he ran really well here without any luck over 1800 metres,” O’Brien said.
“Winkers will go on to help him focus.”
O’Brien took Young Werther to Moonee Valley to run in the Vase last Saturday but scratched him when the track was downgraded from a Soft 5 to a Soft 7 as he didn’t want to give him a taxing run before the Derby.
“He’s a very relaxed horse. After we scratched he spent the whole day at the Valley next to Russian Camelot,” O’Brien said.
“He’s a chilled customer which is a great attribute for horses wanting to stay.”
Young Werther will be ridden by Damien Oliver, who will be aiming for his seventh Victoria Derby win and second in a row after capturing the race aboard Warning last year.
O’Brien, who hasn’t won the Melbourne classic, will also have another two starters in the Derby in Cetshwayo and Kenzan.
“Cetshwayo is a definite winning chance. He was very good last time at Flemington and then he was undone by a muddling pace in the Caulfield Classic and was strong to the line,” O’Brien said.
“With even more tempo and out to 2500 metres at Flemington, he’ll be a terrific chance.
“Kenzan, blinkers will go on. He’s a fit horse and 2500 will suit. He’s some chance as well.”