Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott are hopeful of building on their dream start to the new season with key indicators pointing toward a bold showing from Dragon Leap in Melbourne this weekend.
The training partnership celebrated a significant early domestic strike when Dark Destroyer claimed the major prize on the opening day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival and his stablemate is doing everything asked of him across the Tasman.
Dark Destroyer rounded off strongly for a first-up win in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) last weekend and Dragon Leap has an opportunity to complete a memorable trans-Tasman double when he steps out in Saturday’s Gr.1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
“We were very pleased to get a nice win with the horse (Dark Destroyer) so early in the season, it was fantastic,” O’Sullivan said.
Dragon Leap will be third-up for his preparation following a resuming second at Ruakaka and the son of Pierro then came on well for fourth in the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) behind dual top-flight winner Snapdancer.
The form has subsequently been complimented again by runner-up I’m Thunderstruck going one better at Flemington in the Gr.1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
“Dragon Leap did a bit of work here this morning and we’re happy with him,” O’Sullivan said.
“He didn’t do a lot, but he doesn’t carry any excess condition so it was just maintenance work. He looks bright and he’s come on with the last run so all’s well with him.”
O’Sullivan said he was as happy as he could be with Dragon Leap, whose past progress has been frustratingly hampered by foot issues, ahead of Saturday with Michael Dee to retain the ride in the Memsie Stakes.
“The main thing is that the horse is sound and that gives him a chance to perform,” he said. “He didn’t do a hell of a lot in his work this morning, but looking at him he doesn’t look like he needs to.”
O’Sullivan’s only complaint was with the inclement weather in Melbourne.
“It’s just so cold here, unbelievably cold, and they are saying they have never known it to be so cold at this time of the year. It’s like being in Queenstown,” he said.
“We’re blowing steam and even at work in the afternoon it’s thermals and two jackets.”
Meanwhile, talented mare Karman Line is progressing well toward opening her four-year-old season.
“Andrew and I are hoping to run her in the first week of October, either at Hawke’s Bay or Matamata,” O’Sullivan said.
“She has aways been a little bit slow this time of the year, she was last time, and we really believe in her and we don’t want to send her out on tracks that aren’t her cup of tea.”
The daughter of Myboycharlie has won one of her four starts and lucklessly ended her first campaign in the Listed Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1200m), in which she powered home late for third after an interrupted run.