WINSLOW trainer Ciaron Maher finds himself in an unusual position.
He saddles up favourite Palmero in today’s 3YB Scotty Stewart Brierly Steeplechase but his stable star has no experience around the famous cross-country course.
Maher is unfazed about the eight-year-old’s lack of racing at his home track, hoping one long look on Sunday morning will be enough for Palmero and jockey Steven Pateman.
The last-start Von Doussa Steeplechase winner completed the tricky Tozer Road double before Pateman spent several minutes giving Palmero a further look at the fences in Granter’s Paddock.
Maher said it was important they had a look at the fences and was upbeat about their chances.
“He will probably start favourite and rightly so,” Maher said.
He enters the race with two wins from two starts this campaign. Maher said Palmero had pulled up well after his 6½-length win in the Von Doussa 10 days ago. That came after victory by a similar margin at Sandown earlier this month over a field that included last year’s Brierly winner Cats Fun.
Palmero is no stranger to Warrnambool. He won his first Australian jumps race, a rating 0-120 hurdle on the final of the 2012 carnival, by eight lengths. Neither are his owners, which include Mike Symons and Sandy McGregor, who have raced champion jumpers Some Are Bent and Black And Bent.
They purchased Palmero after he won a maiden hurdle in New Zealand by 14 lengths in September 2011.
Maher said Palmero was better between jumps than his two-time Brierly winner Al Garhood.
“He’s definitely got the ability,” he said.
“He’s similar to Bashboy on the flat, better than Al Garhood.
“He’s won at Sandown, which is a big-galloping track, and Oakbank, which is a tight track. Here is a combination of both.”
Maher is unsure if Palmero, with 68 kilograms today, will back up in Thursday’s $250,000 Wheelie Waste Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m).