Caulfield Stakes draws two O'Brien runners
Craig Brennan 7 days ago
Irish gallopers The Taj Mahal and Johannes Vermeer begin their spring carnival campaigns in the Caulfield Stakes with bigger Group One targets on the horizon.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained pair have been in quarantine at Werribee racecourse just shy of two weeks and are set to line up in Saturday's Group One race over 2000m.
The pair will race in the colours of five-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams whose son Nick was at Werribee on Wednesday morning to watch the pair work.
Williams has received glowing reports from T J Comerford who has travelled to Australia previously with the O'Brien team.
"From all reports T J Comerford seems very happy with them," Williams said.
"The lads looking after them seem happy and their work today looked impressive.
"They were squeezed up a couple of furlongs in their work so we're hopeful they can give a positive showing on Saturday."
Williams is hopeful they can pick up a share of the $1 million prize money on offer on Saturday.
Damien Oliver partners The Taj Mahal from barrier two while Katelyn Mallyon rides Johannes Vermeer from barrier six.
Johannes Vermeer is aimed at Saturday week's Caulfield Cup with The Taj Mahal scheduled to tackle Winx in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 28.
Williams said the cliche of one race at a time exists with The Taj Mahal.
"We'll see how he goes on Saturday but it's always been Aidan's plan to take him to the Cox Plate," Williams said.
"Flemington has that wonderful option of the Emirates Stakes on final day and to me he looks a big horse, a big striding horse and Flemington wouldn't be bad for him but Aidan's always said Moonee Valley.
"He's the best trainer in the world and has won something like 300 Group One races and 23 for the year so far-be-it for me to give him any advice."
Another pair of Williams-owned Melbourne Cup runners are due to in Melbourne on Saturday morning.
Trained by O'Brien's son Joseph, Rekindling and US Army Ranger are undergoing quarantine in Ireland ahead of their flight to Australia.