FRENCH-bred jumper Saunter Boy booked a spot for Winslow training export Ciaron Maher in the $175,000 Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool next month with a dogged victory in Monday's $100,000 Bourke Hurdle at Pakenham.
Saunter Boy, with champion jockey Steve Pateman in the saddle, hung on to beat Out And Dreaming by a long head in the feature hurdle race on the all jumps program.
Maher's brother Declan, who oversees the training of their jumpers at its Ballarat stables, was upbeat with the win of Saunter Boy.
"It was a super win," Maher said. "It's onwards and upwards to the Galleywood Hurdle with Saunter Boy. Steve gave a glowing report after the win. He said there's a lot of improvement in Saunter Boy going into the Galleywood."
Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace, won the 2019 Galleywood with Big Blue.
Heberite, a stablemate of Saunter Boy, ran third in the restricted steeplechase and looks likely to run in the $350,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase on May 5. Maher has trained the winner of the Grand Annual on five occasions.
Ballarat trained Riding High won the $100,000 Spencer Steeplechase for Henry Dwyer.
The eight-year-old defeated Master Poet and Getting Leggie to win the 3500 metre contest.
Dwyer said Riding High will be set for the $175,000 Brierly Steeplechase on the opening day of the Warrnambool Carnival.
"Riding High goes to the Brierly," Dwyer said. "The Spencer Steeplechase is a great pipe-opener to the Brierly. We'll run him in the Brierly and then look at the Australian Steeplechase. The 5500 metres of the Grand Annual is just too far for Riding High. We may run Budd Fox in the Annual."
Irish-born jumps jockey Will McCarthy had the winning ride on Riding High.
Champion jumper Zed Em had a fall in the Spencer Steeplechase. Pateman was taken to hospital for observation.
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