CAULFIELD Cup-winning trainer Ciaron Maher has a good excuse for missing the running of the big Makybe Diva Stakes meeting at Flemington on Saturday.
Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace, jetted out of Melbourne on Thursday to watch his Melbourne Cup prospect Southern France run in the Irish St Leger at The Curragh on Sunday.
The Maher-Eustace runners at Flemington on Saturday are Humidor in the group one Makybe Diva Stakes, Dubious lines up in the Danehill Stakes while Dal Harraild, Seatonic and Snapdancer are their other starters on the nine-race program.
Maher, speaking to The Standard from Ireland on Friday, said he was looking forward to watching up close the run of Southern France in the Irish St Leger.
"I just wanted to come over and see how Southern France performs," he said.
"Aidan O'Brien, who has been training Southern France, is very happy with how the horse is in the lead up to the St Leger.
"He's a very well-credentialed horse and I just wanted to gain a better insight into the horse before we start training him.
"He appears to be an ideal type of horse to run in the Melbourne Cup. He'll run in the St Leger and then we've got plans in place to put Southern France in quarantine in the UK before we get him back to Australia.
"He's already in the Melbourne Cup field which is a bonus. He'll have some time in quarantine in Australia while we're getting him ready for the Melbourne Cup."
The four-time Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase-winning trainer also has All Too Royal running at Rosehill on Saturday.
Injury-prone galloper Gailo Chop makes his racecourse return for Warrnambool trainer Matthew Williams in the $750,000 Makybe Diva Stakes while fellow local trainer Lindsey Smith, who also has stables in Perth, saddles up Scales Of Justice in the Makybe Diva.
Last-start Caulfield winner Another Coldie runs for Symon Wilde in a $125,000 race on the Flemington program.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.