Benalla Ensign

Bekele brings his best to break maiden at Echuca

- By Meg Saultry

Bryan Maher doesn’t honestly care how you go about pronouncin­g the name of his five-year-old gelding, Bekele.

Not after he broke his maiden at Echuca on Friday.

“It’s actually pronounced Bec-ele, not Bak-ele, but I don’t care what you call him now he's won,” the Benalla trainer said with a laugh.

After Tatura’s meeting was transferre­d to Echuca because of wet weather, Bekele returned to the scene of his debut from three weeks prior. That time, he finished four from seven over 1000m on a Good 4.

Although on Friday, racing the similar $25,000 Greater Shepparton Maiden Plate over 1000m, he contended with a Soft 6, which ended up a Heavy 9 by day’s end.

With the inside barrier draw used to jockey Dylan Dunn and Bekele’s astute advantage, the pair jumped strongly before swinging narrow leaders around the turn.

And with a bit of a kick, Bekele forged ahead by two lengths, though a late charge from Inebriatin­g (fourth), and with Avenge (second) coming through, Bekele was made to work hard to hold on at the line by half a length.

Speaking after the race, Dunn said he was happy to go home a winner, but thought Bekele still had a way to go.

“He was pretty strong his first up performanc­e here, and probably got found out that last 100 to 150, so Bryan gave him that extra jump out between runs and I think that’s really brought him on,” Dunn said.

“I sort of felt I had that extra gear left underneath me but it was jut waiting for him a little bit.

“That gives you a great indication of what ability he might have.

“He is a five-year-old, but he’s got a lot of improvemen­t to come.

“I think we’re only scratching the surface with him.

“He hasn’t really filled out to his true potential, but hopefully if he can get another couple runs under his belt, send him out to the paddock and bring him back, he should be a lot better next time.”

Maher himself admitted he was not overly confident heading into the race, though after taking his time getting Bekele ready, the breakthrou­gh win in only his second race was largely a case of patience paying off.

“At the time Turffontei­n out of Rubiton, their cross, it was going well with Fontein Ruby and Fontiton,” he said.

“And I sort of followed that trend, and was doubting it for a few years, but it’s come to fruition.”

 ?? Photo: Brendan McCarthy/Racing Photos ?? Strong finish: Bekele, ridden by Dylan Dunn, wins the Greater Shepparton Maiden Plate in wet conditions at Echuca on Friday.
Photo: Brendan McCarthy/Racing Photos Strong finish: Bekele, ridden by Dylan Dunn, wins the Greater Shepparton Maiden Plate in wet conditions at Echuca on Friday.

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