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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Team Valor's Arc and Melbourne Cup dream for Polish star Va Bank

Va Bank: owners hoping to make a splash on the international stage
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Poland may not be a renowned hotbed of racing stars but that is not putting off connections of Va Bank making some bold plans for the country's Triple Crown winner.

The Irish-bred five-year-old is part-owned by Team Valor and the group's chief executive Barry Irwin has identified this year's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and next year's Melbourne Cup as ambitious long-term goals.

"We're going to treat him like he's an Arc horse and put him in the right races," Irwin told Thoroughbred Daily News.

"It will be a combination of running him in Germany a couple of times and then back in Poland. We hope to have a horse who trains and runs like he's that good and bring him up to the race as fresh as possible."

Va Bank rose to prominence with a ten-race unbeaten streak before suffering the first defeat of his career last October while trying to give 9lb to Polish Derby winner Caccini in defence of his Wielka Warszawska crown.

He is expected to make his seasonal return in a Listed contest at Berlin's Hoppegarten track next month and, as well as the Arc dream, Irwin is also eyeing another major international prize.

"I think the way he relaxes that a mile and a half is going to be fine, but one thing we want to try is the Melbourne Cup,” he said. "He's five years old, and what we decided to do this year is to see if we have an Arc horse and then after that, next year, we’re going to point him for the Melbourne race.

"We'll test him enough in Germany and France over a mile and three-quarters and two miles and see if he's up to it. The one thing this horse has got going for him is he's got an incredible temperament. He can relax, he moves along like a pony and even though you know the result, you're watching and thinking, 'there's no way this horse is getting up from there'.

"He's got tremendous acceleration, he's got a lot of desire and he's just a machine."

He's got tremendous acceleration, he's got a lot of desire and he's just a machine

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Va Bank
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