O’Brien family again set for Group One clash in Hong Kong

Irish Derby 1-2, Latrobe And Rostropovich, at Sha Tin for Hong Kong Vase

Donnacha O’Brien on Latrobe (centre) wins the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh in June. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Donnacha O’Brien on Latrobe (centre) wins the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh in June. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

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It’s over five months since Latrobe and Rostropovich fought out a memorable Irish Derby finish for the O’Brien family but the pair are set to transfer their rivalry to Hong Kong this Sunday.

Both Irish three-year-olds are at the Sha Tin track ahead of the Longines Hong Kong Vase which is one of the four Group One prizes at the prestigious international carnival.

Rostropovich represents Aidan O’Brien who has twice won the Vase with Highland Reel. However, his son Joseph will attempt to break new international ground with Latrobe who became the former champion jockey’s first classic winner as a trainer at the Curragh during the summer.

The younger O’Brien enjoyed plenty of international success during his riding career and famously beat his father to Melbourne Cup glory last year. But the 25-year-old son of Ireland’s champion trainer is looking forward to the chance to challenge for a third Group One prize of 2018 in Hong Kong.

Latrobe skipped last month’s Melbourne Cup to wait for the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington in which he finished runner-up. He has travelled to Hong Kong from Australia and is 10-1 in most ante-post lists for a race in which the French star Waldgeist tops the betting.

“We think the travelling over the last month or so has brought the horse forward a long way mentally,” O’Brien told local media.

Hi assistant Mark Power gave an upbeat bulletin after a track workout by the colt and said: “He took the journey from Melbourne like a pro. It just took him a couple of days to settle in but seems in great shape now.”

In contrast, Rostropovich did take his chance in the Melbourne Cup and ran an honourable fifth to Cross Counter. He now attempts to follow in the illustrious Sha Tin hoof-prints of Highland Reel, a winner in 2015 and last year.

Knee injury

“He came back home after his runs in Australia and arrived here on Sunday. He’s shipped out well and seems happy enough,” said Aidan O’Brien’s representative Pat Keating.

In other news, Gordon Elliott is keen to run both Don Poli and Noble Endeavor over the famous Grand National fences at Aintree on Saturday. They are among 28 horses still in contention for the Randox Becher Chase although ground conditions will be an important factor if Don Poli is to line up.

The former RSA hero hasn’t run in over 660 days but a return to action before now hasn’t been possible due to the going in Ireland. He is, however, set to carry topweight in Saturday’s Liverpool highlight.

Elliott also had news of a setback for his dual-bumper winner Malone Road and it will be a race against time to have him ready for Cheltenham in March.

“He has a knee injury. It’s not career threatening. But if we can get him back for Cheltenham or Punchestown this season that would be it. We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

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