PREMIER trainer Ciaron Maher stepped up his assault on this year's Warrnambool May Racing Carnival when he took six horses to trial over the obstacles at the track on Wednesday.
It quickly became apparent that the local favourite, who has won the Grand Annual Steeplechase on five occasions, will play a massive part in this year's edition of the carnival.
Saunter Boy, Big Blue, Ascot Red and Roland Garros trialled over the hurdles while Bit Of A Lad and Heberite took part in the steeplechase trials for Winslow-raised Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace.
Maher's brother Declan was trackside to watch the horses go through their paces in the lead up to the three-day Warrnambool carnival.
"We were really happy how our horses trialled," Maher told The Standard.
Listen to this week's episode of The Main Break here:
"There's still a bit of water to go under the bridge regarding which races we will target our horses at over the carnival but they're all in top shape.
"We should have a clearer idea after the Cranbourne jumps trials on April 8 as to what races we may target at Warrnambool.
"I would say at this stage Saunter Boy could go straight into the Galleywood Hurdle but he may run in the Bourke Hurdle at Pakenham on April 18.
"Big Blue has came back into work in great condition. He won the Galleywood Hurdle back in 2019 and that race could suit him again this year.
Heberite looks a likely Grand Annual type while Bit Of A Lad is being set for the Brierly Steeplechase on the opening day of the carnival."
Maher revealed top Irish-born jumps jockey Will McCarthy would arrive back in Australia on Friday, to ride in the jumps races this season.
McCarthy rode The Dominator to win the Thackeray Steeplechase in July last year.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.