OTI group hopes to drink from spring cups

Manighar has been transformed from a seemingly one-paced stayer into a dazzling weight-for-age performer at middle distances.SIMON O’Donnell, Terry Henderson and the OTI horse-racing syndicate know exactly how Tantalus felt.
Nanjing Night Net

The mythical Greek figure – said to have stolen ambrosia and nectar from the gods – was condemned to thirst for eternity in the underworld, standing in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree whose fruit was always just out of grasp and with the water always receding before he could take a drink.

The OTI group members know just how heartbreaking it is to have had the vessel they cherish most snatched away at the last second: their grey gelding, Bauer, trained by Luca Cumani, was beaten by a whisker by Viewed in the 2008 Melbourne Cup.

Tantalus was never able to seek redemption. O’Donnell and Henderson can – and the pair are hoping it will come this spring. They have one of the strongest hands of any ownership group as they look to harvest the riches on offer in Melbourne over the next 10 weeks.

Already preparing for his next campaign is their import, Manighar, the revelation of the autumn, a galloper Peter Moody transformed from a seemingly one-paced stayer into a dazzling weight-for-age performer at middle distances.

Manighar, when prepared by Luca Cumani at Newmarket, finished close up in the cups, although his autumn performances over distances between 1600 metres and 2000 metres would suggest he is now capable of a Cox Plate.

While Australian punters will look to Moonee Valley and Warwick Farm for clues this weekend, the OTI members will have their eyes firmly fixed on Europe, where several other candidates who could bring them cups glory will be having their final preparatory races in the north and south of England and in France. The quartet concerned are Quest For Peace and Ibicenco, both trained by Cumani, Gatewood, from the John Gosden yard, and the John Hammond-prepared Prairie Star.

Ibicenco has been off the track since the end of May, when he ran second to Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Opinion Poll in a group 3 contest at Sandown. While Cumani is doubtful whether he is forward enough or perhaps sharp enough to match it with likely favourite Saddler’s Rock, O’Donnell is looking forward to a decent showing from the former German-trained galloper in the group 2 Lonsdale Cup over 3300 metres.

”We are looking for a nice run to top him off there before he comes here for the cups. He’s been off the track for a while and has had a nice freshen up,” the broadcaster and former Australian cricketer said.

While the son of Shirocco is a genuine stayer, Quest For Peace looks to be a better cups chance at the moment. The latter holds a Goodwood entry in the 2800-metre listed March Stakes late tonight and this four-year-old son of Galileo could be a big player in the Melbourne spring. He and Ibicenco will likely end up with Moody after their spring campaigns.

The group’s attention will switch to France 24 hours later, to the Grand Prix de Deauville, where Gatewood, a Royal Ascot winner of a 2000-metre handicap earlier this year, is expected to step out in company with Prairie Star.

Gatewood made the step up to group company when he ran third to Quest For Peace in that Goodwood race. Gatewood will be sent to Sydney to be trained by Chris Waller when his spring campaign ends, while Prairie Star will be transferred into the care of Danny O’Brien at Flemington.

Punters should also keep a close eye on the Ebor Handicap over 2800 metres at York. It has been a good guide to the foreign raiders for the cups, with Cumani’s Purple Moon winning it in 2007 before running second to Efficient at Flemington. John Gosden’s Camborne could also be a contender if he can win in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.