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Melbourne Cup coming to Kyabram

By Kyabram Free Press

by Gus Underwood

Another box in Kyabram’s rich sporting history was ticked with Vow And Declare’s stirring win in last week’s Melbourne Cup.

And now trainer Danny O’Brien has promised to bring the Melbourne Cup back to Kyabram.

‘‘I’m still very much a Ky boy at heart and it will be great to get back,’’ O’Brien said at the weekend Sunday while celebrating with family and friends his Flemington carnival success which included producing both the Melbourne Cup winner, Vow And Declare, and the Victoria Oaks winner, Miami Bound.

‘‘It’s been a long journey from Kyabram to Flemington but it seems all worth it now. We’ve had a big week and I always think of my times in Ky when I was growing up,’’ said Danny who was born in the town and did his early schooling at St Augustine’s College.

Just when Danny and his family will return to Kyabram for celebrations to mark his historic triumphs is being arranged.

‘‘There are a few logistics I have to work out but hopefully to keep it relevant we want to do it as soon as possible, hopefully it can be in the next couple of weeks,’’ he said.

A Kyabram committee has been formed to organise the much-anticipated visit and met to map out plans to involve all the town and district.

With his Cup-week exploits, Danny elevated his name right to the top of an elite list of Kyabram born and raised sporting figures who have excelled on the biggest stages.

The Flemington-based trainer is a son of Kyabram’s popular and sporting minded doctor Peter O’Brien and his wife, Helen.

There was no prouder father at the Melbourne Cup last week than Peter, now in his 70s, who hung up his stethoscope only a few months ago.

Danny did his primary schooling at St Augustine’s school at a time when another student also destined for sporting fame in Garry Lyon was among his school mates.

Lyon of course became a legendary AFL footballer with Melbourne Football Club, captaining the club and also Victoria.

From his younger days there was always a good chance Danny would pursue his love of horses, particularly racehorses, gained no doubt from his father’s passion for the thoroughbred.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Peter trained and owned horses and enjoyed his share of success in both fields.

He has been one of his son’s biggest supporters, particularly during the crippling cobalt doping saga Danny was involved in a few years ago — and subsequently cleared of — which paralysed his training business for a period.

Few people really know the challenges Danny faced in rebuilding his career and winning back the trust and respect of owners who are pivotal to any trainer’s chances of making their mark in the tough and uncompromising horse-racing game.

Danny never doubted himself and his ability to train horses — and winners — and his glorious Melbourne Cup week was testament not only to his skills as a trainer but his fighting, never-say-die nature.

Kyabram is very proud of you, Danny.