Ciaron Maher lands fourth win in jumps classic

The winning connections after Regina Coeli's second Grand Annual win. Picture: Todd Nicholson
The winning connections after Regina Coeli's second Grand Annual win. Picture: Todd Nicholson

WINSLOW racing export Ciaron Maher claimed a fourth Waterfront by Lyndoch Living Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) - a second with mare Regina Coeli - and paid a special tribute to his brother Declan.

Regina Coeli (John Allen) lead the field in the Grand Annual.

Regina Coeli (John Allen) lead the field in the Grand Annual.

​Declan Maher said he took a special interest in Regina Coeli’s preparation even though he was foreman of his brother's Caulfield stable.

"I took her under my wing​. She's had a few niggles, a few leg injuries and takes a bit of work, icing and stuff," he said.

​"She has been in work since August for this race. W​inning a race like this is a real team effort. I do ride her sometimes but if I'm not there then someone does it. 

Regina Coeli (John Allen) wins the the Grand Annual from No Song No Supper (Martin Kelly) and  ​I'll'Ava'Alf​ (Steve Pateman).

Regina Coeli (John Allen) wins the the Grand Annual from No Song No Supper (Martin Kelly) and ​I'll'Ava'Alf​ (Steve Pateman).

​"Ciaron has a lot of other horses in work but I've kept an eye on her."

Declan said it was the first time he had taken suc​h a​n ​interest in a horse’s preparation for a race.

​"I'v​​e  pretty muc​h  been living with her for the past six weeks​. I just can't talk at the moment. I don't know what to say​," he said.​

Owner Colin McKenna said it was an unbelievable to win ​another Grand Annual.

“I’ve just won the Melbourne Cup of Warrnambool," he said.

"Her brother (Al Garhood) won two Grand Annuals ​and now she's won two. I was very worried last night that she wouldn't run but everything worked out all right," he said.

"The track just wasn't wet enough. She’s bred to stay and she stays all day. She got a younger brother who ran second on Tuesday and hopefully he's here next year.”

McKenna said her dam Alstromeria was now 23 years old.

"I fed her this morning," explaining the story of Maher having Al Garhood and buying the mare which was in foal at the time with Regina Coeli.

"We've sent her to staying stallions. We as an industry definitely don't try to bred enough stayers," he said.

C​iaron Maher said to win another Grand Annual was just stunning.

"I was very happy with her weight," he said.

"I knew she would run the trip because of the work she's done. Johnny (jockey John Allen) just kept her flowing and that's what wins these big races. 

"It's great to win again for Colin McKenna and Janice. This mare was brought up on his farm," he said.

In an action packed Grand Annual Allen took Regina Coeli to the front early and dictated terms throughout the Grand Annual.

Warrnambool jumps jockey Brad McLean fell from Lord Of The Song at the Alfred Road double the second time and Shaun Fannin fell from Slowpoke Rodrig​uez​​ at the last .

At the home turn there were four live chances in the Grand Annual with Regina Coeli just in front. 

Slowpoke Rodrig​uez​ fell, leaving Patrick Payne's No Song No Supper and favourite ​I'll'Ava'Alf to challenge the leader.

No Song No Supper looked a great chance to run down Regina Coeli 200 metres from home but the big weight of 68 kilograms told late.

Regina Coeli ($15.20) won by two lengths with another 3.5 length between No Song No Supper ($9.60) and  ​I'll'Ava'Alf​ ($3.10 favourite).​