CIARON Maher is setting his sights on May Carnival dominance as he endeavours to improve on his three-win tally from the opening day of action on Tuesday.
The champion trainer, who works in partnership with David Eustace, won't contest the Midfield Group Wangoom Handicap but has three runners in Thursday's feature flat race, the Sungold Milk Warrnambool Cup, and a possible two in the Waterfront by Lyndoch Living Grand Annual Steeplechase.
South Pacific, Heart of Puissance and Sky Horse are down to run in the cup while Yensir will push for a Grand Annual Steeplechase crown.
Maher will make a decision on whether Bit Of A Lad contests the feature jumps race on Thursday morning.
Throughout the carnival we've got horses that can handle wet tracks.Ciaron Maher
Maher on Tuesday prepared the winner of the second division of the maiden hurdle Wil John for south-west businessman Colin McKenna and connections, race three victor Mawaany Machine and race four conqueror Bubbly Lass.
The Caulfield-based horseman said scoring three wins from the first four races was an ideal start.
"I am always eager for a big carnival, it doesn't always pan out that way," he said. "There's always a bit more pressure (at home)."
He believes the horses they've picked were suited to the conditions. "They all handle wet conditions or the wet in the track," Maher said.
"Throughout the carnival we've got horses that can handle wet tracks."
Wil John, who saluted over the Chris Hyland-trained Annunciate and Mornington jumper Pueblo on Tuesday, shares a name with McKenna's grandson.
"He's named after our grandson, he's got the Union (Dairy Company) brand on him, and we've got all our friends here," McKenna told The Standard.
"It's special for all the Warrnambool team, friends, grandkids, the whole lot."
Maher said Wil John was a strong stayer.
"When you look at him he's a big free-striding horse. (Jockey) Steve (Pateman) was pretty happy with his trials leading in and it was a great result by the team," he said. "They've done a great job as he had a few niggles and it has been great to get him in here."
Maher is also hoping to cement his relationship with Australian Bloodstock after a comfortable win with hot favourite Mawaany Machine in the George Taylor Memorial maiden hurdle over 3200 metres. Australian Bloodstock's Jamie Lovett sent Mawaany Machine and Wednesday's Galleywood Hurdle favourite Saunter Boy to Maher and Eustace a couple of months ago.
Mawaany Machine, a grey gelding, finished a placing at Flemington last start and went into Tuesday's hurdle a restrictive $1.60 popular pick.
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