VERSATILE galloper Ablaze completed a unique treble at Sandown on Sunday, when he added the Grand National Hurdle to his Warrnambool successes in the Jericho Cup and Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, with special attention from Maher's brother Declan at their Ballarat base, Ablaze, with Warrnambool jumps jockey Shane Jackson aboard, made all the running in front withholding late chargers Bee Tee Junior and Gobstopper.
"It's a thrill to train my first Grand National Hurdle winner," Maher, a Winslow export, told The Standard.
"It was a brilliant ride by Shane. He's riding in career-best form and has a great understanding of Ablaze. Shane just allowed Ablaze to bowl along.
"He knew he was riding a horse that was rock-hard fit. I've got to give a mention to my brother Declan and the staff at our Ballarat stable.
"They have done an incredible job with Ablaze to win the Jericho Cup, the Grand Annual Steeplechase and the Grand National Hurdle. It's an amazing feat."
Jackson, who is enjoying a career-best season in the saddle, said horses like Ablaze only came along once-in-a-lifetime.
"Ablaze is so versatile, he can do anything," he said.
"He's now won the longest flat race in Australia, the longest steeplechase in Australia and now the longest distance hurdle race in Australia."
The New Zealand-bred galloper, who has earned more than $740,000 in stakemoney, will be set for the $350,000 Grand National Steeplechase.
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