O’Reilly gelding Master O’Reilly was retired after finishing over 18 lengths away 15th to Melbourne Cup winner Americain in last year’s $6 million Group 1 showdown, when under the training of Danny O’Brien.
With retirement plans since shelved, Master O’Reilly will make their return to racing in the $300,000 Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington having returned to their original trainer Judy Mawer.
Mawer prepared Master O’Reilly from his race debut in June 2006 through until November that year, after which he joined the Flemington stables of O’Brien.
“I actually brought him in to be a lead pony and it’s gone on from there,” Mawer said in regards to bringing Master O’Reilly back to racing.
“He just got better and better and that’s when we thought we’d give him another go.”
Master O’Reilly, a skilled stayer of 45 starts to date, has four times raced in the testing two-mile feature that is the Melbourne Cup.
Their first attempt was four years ago, Master O’Reilly running eighth to 2007 Melbourne Cup winner Efficient after having taken out that year’s Caulfield Cup.
Following their Melbourne Cup debut, Master O’Reilly went on to run fourth to Viewed in 2008, fourth to Shocking in 2009 and then their 15th last year, which was the much celebrated 150th edition of the Emirates Melbourne Cup.
Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakes will be a huge test for Master O’Reilly, facing a crack field including current 2011 Melbourne Cup betting favourite the Peter Moody-trained Lights Of Heaven, who hasn’t been seen in the winner’s stall since their victory in the 2007 Caulfield Cup.
“He came back (into work) 12 weeks ago and he loves the attention,” Mawer said.
“I think he’s been in stables too long.
“It’s quite exciting him going back to the racetrack, he likes it.
“I wish I had another half a dozen like him.”
A victory in the Makybe Diva Stakes has so far eluded Master O’Reilly, who takes his spot in the weight-for-age feature for the fourth consecutive year this weekend.
His best finish in the race was a close third to stablembate Vigor back in 2009, while Master O’Reilly could only manage to finish 12 ½ lengths away 13th behind the now-retired Shocking in the race 12 months ago.
2011 Caulfield Cup Odds
Futures all-in betting showing top 24 horses.
If he can repeat the feat of finishing in the top three on Saturday, Master O’Reilly will exceed the $3 million milestone in prize money earned, currently sitting on $2,985,400.
Mawer has already nominated Master O’Reilly for this year’s $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m), to run on October 15, and will enter them for the Melbourne Cup 2011 when nominations close tomorrow.
Yesterday Master O’Reilly was allocated 52 kilograms when the 2011 Caulfield Cup weights were released, one and a half kilos more than they carried to victory in the feature four years ago.
Master O’Reilly attempted to become a multiple Caulfield Cup hero when they lined up in the 2008 edition carrying 56.5kg to finish seventh to All The Good and then again in 2009 when they ran sixth with 55kg to Viewed.
Whether he will definitely be a part of the 2011 Caulfield Cup field is still to be decided, Mawer saying they were just happy to have him back at the spring carnival.
“If we get to them (the Cups) it’s all good,” Mawer said.
“We’ve been using him as a lead pony and he’s been working with a minimum of three horses a day so if he can stand up to that he’d stand up to a prep you’d think.”
Reigning champion Descarado, one of 12 entries for Gai Waterhouse, is the only other former Caulfield Cup winner vying for a second victory in the race this year.
The latest Caulfield Cup odds at Luxbet have Master O’Reilly as a $301 roughie, Descarado much shorter in the betting at $35.
The Makybe Diva Stakes final field and barriers will be released later today and published here at Races.com.au.
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