Joseph O’Brien has more Melbourne Cup Glory in his sights with Latrobe
Trainer saddles Us And Them and Far Reach in Tuesday’s action at Punchestown
Latrobe and Donnacha O’Brien win The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. Melbourne Cup is the next target for Aidan O’Brien’s charge. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Latrobe will try and give Joseph O’Brien back-to-back victories in the Melbourne Cup in three weeks’ time although the trainer’s immediate attention is on Punchestown’s return to action on Tuesday.
O’Brien saddles two runners at the Co Kildare track and Us And Them is an interesting newcomer in the Beginners Chase where Davy Russell takes the mount. Us And Them holds both his rivals Trainwreck and Duca de Thaix on hurdles form from last season.
O’Brien’s other Punchestown runner is Far Reach in the opening three year old hurdle, a race that could see the four-time flat winner Dawn Hoofer start her new jumping career with a win.
Iridessa’s victory in last week’s Fillies Mile was O’Brien’s latest Group One feat in a career which reached global status in 2017 after Rekindling made him the youngest trainer ever to win the Melbourne Cup.
That Rekindling beat Johannes Vermeer, trained by O’Brien’s father, Aidan, added to a sense of family history which might yet be repeated on the first Tuesday of next month.
The Irish Derby hero Latrobe accompanied three more Ballydoyle Cup entries – Idaho, Rostropovich and The Pentagon – to Melbourne at the weekend.
He carries the same Rekindling colours of Australian owner Lloyd Williams who can also call on O’Brien Snr’s Yucatan, the hugely impressive weekend winner all but guaranteed a Melbourne Cup slot after getting a 2.5kg penalty for his Caulfield victory.
Williams’s son Nick has already described Yucatan as a Melbourne Cup “winner in waiting”.
But he is eagerly awaiting Latrobe’s Flemington appearance too. The top Sydney rider Brenton Avdulla will ride the three year old.
“Mentally he’s probably not quite as ready as Rekindling but having said that Joseph thinks he’s really come on,” said Williams. “I think you’ll see the best of him over a mile and a half whereas Rekindling is just a dead set two-mile horse.”
A win for Latrobe would see O’Brien become the first trainer since the legendary Bart Cummings (1990-91) to win the Melbourne Cup back-to-back with different horses.
The latest Ballydoyle arrivals in Melbourne bring Aidan O’Brien’s team there to nine horses. US Navy Flag is expected to take his chance in the $1 million Group One Manikato Stakes over six furlongs at Moonee Valley later this month.