Jockey Dan Nikolic believes that Danny O'Brien can pull off the training coup of his career and win the Group One Emirates Stakes with Melbourne Cup discard Vigor.
While admitting barrier one was not ideal for the five-year-old in the 1600m Group One feature, Nikolic has faith in O'Brien's ability to have Vigor fresh for his first run since finishing third in the Caulfield Cup three weeks ago.
"He is one of the best horses in the land and if he puts his best foot forward he can win," Nikolic said. "I'm going in confident."
O'Brien was less excited about the magnitude of the task ahead for Vigor who he had trained up to run in last Tuesday's Melbourne Cup only to miss out on making the final field when it was declared on Derby night.
O'Brien said it was major test of his ability as a trainer.
"It is not easy," O'Brien said. "He was going to run in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday and now he has to come back to a mile on Saturday."
However O'Brien recognises Vigor's outstanding Flemington record of five wins and a second from seven runs and his three wins and a second from five starts at 1600 metres.
His only win this campaign was his nose victory over super mare Typhoon Tracy four starts ago in the Group Two Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 5.
"They haven't given us much option but to run in this race now but he has won at 1600 metres at Flemington before," O'Brien said.
O'Brien shares Nikolic's concern with barrier one which was the same gate from which he turned in the worst run of his career when 13th in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) two starts ago.
"I've got my fingers crossed," O'Brien said.
Nikolic said he would be aiming to ensure Vigor did not get crowded in the run.
"He is only a smallish horse and I think he does appreciate a bit of galloping room," he said.
The Bart Cummings-trained Cox Plate winner So You Think is favourite to win the Emirates and firmed on Friday with Centrebet from $3.30 to $3 while another corporate bookmaker, Betstar, quoted him at $2.80. The three-year-old was $2.70 with TAB Sportsbet.
Jockey Glen Boss said So You Think would be able to settle back three wide with cover from barrier nine and expects him to win easily.
"If he's the superstar they say he is, and I think he is, then he should beat these," Boss told Sport 927.
However Anthony Cummings, who has Road To Rock and Red Lord lining up, said So You Think could be vulnerable racing back off the pace.
"In the Cox Plate he was out in front and he has never been against the older horses in the physical sense," Cummings said.
"I doubt if he would be ridden as far forward in this race and back mixing it with other horses he might find it a bit tougher."Since 1960 only five three-year-olds have won the Emirates Stakes with the last Silver Bounty in 1980.
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