Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare has tuned up for his return with a barrier trial at Cranbourne.
Trainer Danny O’Brien can expect a glowing report on Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare when he arrives back in Melbourne.
Vow And Declare had his first official trial in preparation for an autumn campaign, running second to the David Brideoake-trained Shepard at Cranbourne over 1190m on Tuesday.
Ridden by Craig Williams, Vow And Declare finished five lengths astern of Shepard, and was kept under a tight rein.
O’Brien has missed Vow And Declare’s two public appearances since the gelding’s Melbourne Cup victory last year.
The first, a gallop between races at Geelong last Wednesday, was when O’Brien was in New Zealand attending the yearling sales while the trainer was on his way back to Australia on Tuesday after attending the Super Bowl in Miami.
Assistant trainer Ben Gleeson said O’Brien was due back on Wednesday morning and would be pleased.
“When he looks at that trial and sees that he’s finished second for a first trial, it’s very positive,” Gleeson said.
“Craig couldn’t have been happier with him and when he (O’Brien) sees the horse, and what shape he’s in, he’ll be over the moon.
“Craig let him go through his gears. He came back not blowing and Craig said he was great in his action, everything you want to see from a first trial.”
Gleeson said Vow And Declare was 50kg heavier than the 480kg he weighed before winning the Melbourne Cup.
Williams said Vow And Declare was a bigger more mature horse.
“He definitely looks a lot fuller but mentally he feels more mature too,” Williams said.
“With the stable knowing they’ve got 50 kilos on him they’ve got plenty to work with getting him to his winning weight at two miles.”
Williams said the trip to Cranbourne was ideal.
“He’s not a flash worker but that was good,” Williams said.
“His recovery was amazing, as always, and I just loved the way he is building up to run first-up over 10 furlongs, wherever that may be.”
Vow And Declare will run first-up in either the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 7 or the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in April.