Danny O’Brien is used to winning the big races.
The Melbourne Cup winning trainer, who also a Cox Plate victory among his long list of Group 1 triumphs, has his sights set on another big win as he prepares Grinzinger King on the path to the Victoria Derby (2500m).
After getting his maiden out of the way at his second start over 1512m at Geelong earlier this month, the three-year-old steps out at Flemington on Wednesday in the Victoria Derby Trial (1800m).
O’Brien’s stable client John Wheeler paid $360,000 for Grinzinger King at the 2020 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
A man who races several horses with O’Brien, Wheeler selected the yearling himself and was determined that he wasn’t going home without the well credentialed colt.
Being a full brother to Extra Brut (Domesday x Dom Perion), the winner of the 2018 edition of the Victoria Derby, his little brother was always going to attempt to win the same Group 1 race.
O’Brien said they were extremely happy with the way Grinzinger King won at Geelong and weren’t concerned when the colt didn’t beat a runner home when he made his debut over 1400m as a two-year-old at Flemington in May.
“We were very happy,” O’Brien said of the Geelong win.
“Obviously he was a lovely yearling and John Wheeler paid a good amount of money for him.
“We have been pretty focused on him being a Derby horse from the time he was bought at the yearling sale.
“He is on track and runs in the Derby trial here on Wednesday and we are hoping he can keep building towards Derby Day.”
Grinzinger King raced near the lead at Geelong which was the opposite of what he did on debut.
“First up we just went back on him that day and it was inexperience and he just lost sight of the bunny,” O’Brien said.
“He did everything wrong, but he was very good obviously at Geelong the other day, and we are looking forward to what else he can do.
“We are hoping. He is fit and well and the next couple of runs will tell us.”
The man who bred Extra Brut and his full brother Grinzinger King, Andrew McDonald, is looking forward to seeing how the colt performs on the way to the Derby.
He was happy to see the colt get the money at Geelong.
“It was good, and he looks fabulous, too, so they have done a good job with him,” McDonald said.
“Wednesday will tell the story, won’t it.
“I have looked at the replays of most of them in the race, and there are some really nicely bred horses and some really nice looking horses.
“Whoever does well in that is really going to let you know that you’ve got a horse and if he can do something nice in that race than he is going to be all right.”
McDonald said Grinzinger King always definitely looked like a Derby horse, probably more so than his full brother.
“He is a different type and more of a staying looking horse than what Extra Brut was, but obviously he was very good, and that’s why he won the Derby.”
Since buying Dom Perion in foal to Domesday with what became Extra Brut, McDonald has had three foals, and one about to drop, out of the mare.
He sold a filly by Justify out of Dom Perion for $280,000 at this year’s Gold Coast National Weanling Sale.
Dom Perion is due to foal in a couple of weeks to Lonhro.
“She is having a filly, and she won’t be going anywhere – she will be staying here,” McDonald said.
“I have just been so desperate for a filly out of her because Justify was a foal share so we didn’t have a choice.
“I was desperate for a filly because she (Dom Perion) is 16 now and that’s why I wanted a filly to keep things going.
Dom Perion has a booking this season with new Darley stallion Ghaiyyath (Dubawi x Nightime).
“He is out of a Galileo mare, and you have got the Redoute’s (Choice) from our girl so it would be a nice cross I would have thought,” he said.
McDonald said that as a past customer, he recently got a generic email from the stud that stood Domesday informing him that the stallion would be covering a few mares this season, after serving only one in 2020.
“They did retire him, but apparently he is going to cover a few mares if people want to sort of thing,” he said.
“He must be feeling all right and for whatever reason he is coming back.
“We have been to Domesday twice, and we will have the Lonhro filly and Ghaiyyath looks good but he has to prove himself but looks promising.”
McDonald said he will be heavily supporting Darley this year with his band of broodmares.
He already has a Frosted filly on the ground at the moment out of Al Maher mare, Bee Ali.
“She is a ripping foal and Frosted is going okay at the minute,” he said.
“We bought a couple of mares up at the broodmare sale.
“And we are going to go to Darley. The mare that just had the Frosted is going to go to Earthlight and we are going to do a Blue Point, an Impending, a Kermadec and Ghaiyyath.”
McDonald retained a share in Dom Perion’s Toronado colt which was sold to Paul Moroney Bloodstock for $460,000 at this year’s Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
It was the highest price paid for a Toronado yearling.
“I have got a little piece of him,” he said.
McDonald could be forgiven for still being in disbelief after paying $6000 for Dom Perion, in foal to Domesday, at the 2015 Great Southern Sale.
Freshwater Creek trainer Jamie Edwards might be thinking the same. He paid $7000 for Dom Perion’s second foal – by Statue of Liberty – which raced as Fill The Flute at the same sale as a weanling. Fill the Flute won seven races and $258,000 in prizemoney.
The first foal out Dom Perion, Mail It Send, was an unraced filly by Grey Swallow who the mare missed to the following season.
Extra Brut was Dom Perion’s third foal and then the mare had no luck the next two breeding seasons and slipped to Puissance De Lune in 2016 and Night of Thunder in 2017.
“I don’t know what happened, but she went straight in to foal and went 45 days, and it got to 60 and was sort of thinking I’m not too sure about this even though there were no obvious signs,” he said.
“And she slipped two years in a row.
“There was no rhyme or reason because every year she has gone in foal first cover and I think she keeps only the good ones.”
After missing two years in a row, one of McDonald’s mates suggested he should get rid of the mare, but he wisely told him he wasn’t too sure about that suggestion.
McDonald had sold Extra Brut, through Stonehouse Thoroughbreds, as weanling for $52,000 at the 2016 Great Southern Sale. He was sold again at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale for $100,000 the following year.
And McDonald admits there are plenty of highs and lows in the breeding game, but Dom Perion continues to be one big success story.
Extra Brut was sold to Hong Kong five months after his Derby win, but was fatally hurt from a walking machine mishap after finishing third at his debut at Sha Tin.
He was being prepared for the Hong Kong Derby.
Danny O’Brien is used to winning the big races.