O'Brien buoyant about prospects of Latrobe becoming a Leger legend
Wells Farhh Go to miss Classic after suffering gallops injury
Having landed the St Leger as a rider, Joseph O'Brien knows what is required to win the final Classic of the season and he believes his Latrobe has what it takes to capture the William Hill-backed contest a week on Saturday.
O’Brien won the race aboard Leading Light for father Aidan in 2013, but five years on he is going head-to-head against his dad for victory in the 1m6f Group 1 at Doncaster.
Latrobe’s task became easier on Tuesday when Wells Farhh Go, an 8-1 chance for the St Leger, was ruled out of the race having returned lame from exercise, dashing the hopes of the prize remaining in Yorkshire.
With a Melbourne Cup and Irish Derby pocketed in under three years of training, Joseph O'Brien has wasted little time in translating his skill as a multiple Group 1-winning rider to trainer and in Latrobe, who is 10-1 for the St Leger with the race sponsors, he has a live contender.
"We were unsure whether he was a horse who wanted 12 furlongs or whether he would come back to a mile and a quarter so it was a fact-finding mission," O'Brien said on Tuesday when discussing the International run. "We had an easier option for the Voltigeur but it made more sense to find out exactly where we were. He didn't run too badly. He was outpaced and stayed on okay."
By Camelot, who O'Brien rode to finish second behind Encke in the St Leger in 2012 when attempting to emulate Nijinsky in winning the Triple Crown, Latrobe has a fair chance of staying the demanding trip on September 15.
"He should get the trip, but he's out of a quick mare and his half-sister was best at seven furlongs so it wouldn't be guaranteed but you'd be quite hopeful," O'Brien said. "He's in good shape. He has the option of the Irish Leger on the same weekend and I'd like to think he has a nice chance of running very well in either race. He's relatively versatile ground-wise."
If his stamina lasts, Latrobe's Irish Derby form gives him every chance of winning either Leger, though Doncaster is the more likely option. Should that scenario unfold then it will mean the son has beaten the father on the big stage again - with Aidan training St Leger favourite Kew Gardens - not that it would lead to any tension between the pair.
"It's all about winning," he said. "If Dad beats me I'm delighted for him and vice versa. We speak every day and whenever I want a second opinion on something he's usually the man to call."
By taking in a Leger this month, O'Brien decided against sending Latrobe to Australia in a bid to thwart wondermare Winx as she gets ready to try and win the Cox Plate for an unprecedented fourth time. But an Australian trip could still happen with Latrobe holding an entry for the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
O'Brien was in the winner's enclosure at Flemington last November when Rekindling, who was fourth in the St Leger, gave him an unforgettable victory defeating Johannes Vermeer by half a length.
On whether Latrobe could attempt to give O'Brien back-to-back successes, the trainer said: "It's a big ask for a three-year-old colt. It's not a decision we will take lightly. If everything went to plan in the Leger and we were very happy with him then we could go but it's not set in stone. They're different types of horses. Latrobe is a bigger horse which is why he's quite lightly-raced while Rekindling's stamina was kind of assured."
Connections of Wells Farhh Go are having to think further ahead as well after he was ruled out for the season with a stress fracture.
Trainer Tim Easterby said: "He pulled up lame on the gallops this morning and it turned out to be a stress fracture. He'll miss the Leger and will be out for the year. We're hopeful it's just this year: we'll bring him back in the spring and take it from there."
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