Spring in Maher step
CIARON Maher has issued glowing endorsements for Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet and Derby beast-turned-Cups contender Explosive Jack ahead of their return in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes.
Despite being well short of their pet distances, the $1m 1600m Flemington feature is an ideal starting point for the major spring contenders.
Persan, who ran a creditable fifth in the Melbourne Cup last year, will also resume on Saturday in an open 1700m handicap, after going off the boil in the autumn.
“All three had a good base, but they needed a couple of trials to clean up their wind,” Maher said on Sunday.
“Really come on since … (but) they’ll want the run and should be hitting their straps (second-up).”
Sir Dragonet has been geared for back-to-back Cox Plates, before a Japan Cup tilt.
And Group 1 ATC and South Australian Derby winner Explosive Jack remains on the Caulfield-Melbourne cups path.
“He seems to be in a really good spot, the Dragon. He seems similar to last time around,” Maher said. “He’s a horse that thrives on racing
and a lot of work. It was evident second time around coming here for the All-Star Mile and then into Sydney, and he kept improving.”
Sir Dragonet only battled in Melbourne in the autumn but made amends in Sydney, finishing just outside the money in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes and winning the Group 1 Tancred Stakes.
He was beaten less than two lengths in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but failed to make an impression in the Doomben Cup.
Sir Dragonet and Explosive Jack, who both spelled by the beach at Newcastle, have done a lot of their work at the stable’s Fingal property on the Mornington Peninsula.
“It’s bloody good (Fingal),
the horses thrive and get a good base on them,” said Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace.
“It’s about 2000m (sand tracks), but we do a series of work on it and there’s hills at both ends … all sand down there, so you can make tracks wherever you want.”
Despite a busy but stellar three-year-old campaign,
which would see Explosive Jack go to the races nine times in five states for three Derby wins, Maher has full confidence in the workhorse.
“He’s a big four-year-old horse that needs work,” Maher said. “He needed work when he was a three-year-old and thrived. The main thing is his feet, being a big horse, so we got the shoes off him.”