WINSLOW trainer Ciaron Maher is celebrating the most successful weekend of his career after producing three feature race winners at city tracks within 24 hours.
Maher’s star jumper Bashboy yesterday capped a remarkable period for the 32-year-old, winning the $100,000 Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown for the third consecutive time. That victory came after his emerging gallopers Akavoroun and Marksmanship won feature races on the flat at Flemington on Saturday.
“It’s been an exciting few days, not only for me but for all staff connected with the stable,” Maher said.
“It’s beyond my wildest dreams to think that I could win three metropolitan races in Melbourne within two days.”
His great mate, jumps jockey Steven Pateman, lifted Bashboy to an eight-length victory in the Crisp Steeplechase after a faultless jumping display.
They will now attempt to create history by becoming the first to win a third consecutive Grand National Steeplechase in the 148-year-old race on July 27.
A win by Bashboy would give Maher his fourth consecutive victory in the race. He won it with Man Of Class in 2011 and followed with Bashboy’s triumphs.
Bashboy, which carried 69 kilograms yesterday, could be handicapped with more than 73.5kg when weights are announced next week.
In an exciting development, Maher is targeting the group 1 Emirates Stakes for Akavoroun after he claimed his sixth win from seven starts in Saturday’s $150,000 Winter Championship final at Flemington.
The Emirates Stakes is the same race that launched his career in 2007 when 100-1 chance, Tears I Cry, claimed the spring carnival feature.
“We always had a big opinion of Akavoroun,” Maher said.
“He’s potentially the best flat horse that I’ve trained. I’ve had the Emirates Stakes in the back of my mind for him for a while but after this victory it’s in the front of my mind. We’ll probably use the group 1 Toorak Handicap as the lead-in race to the Emirates Stakes.
“From his last two runs he’s just started to furnish as a horse. He’s got exceptional ability. He pinned his ears back and hit the line like a real professional horse. The efforts of Akavoroun are very special because I bred him with my dad John.”
Akavoroun’s win clinched Maher his first Flemington double after Marksmanship, formerly owned by Lloyd Williams, won the $120,000 Banjo Paterson final.
Marksmanship, which cost $120,000 in May at a mixed thoroughbred sale, has picked up $130,500 in stakes since he joined Maher’s stable.
Talented jockey Michelle Payne rode both horses to victory. Maher hinted Akavoroun and Marksmanship would be freshened up with spring campaigns on the agenda.