AN emotional Ciaron Maher, who won his first Melbourne Cup in the same year he took out his sixth Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase, described the win of his imported stallion Gold Trip in the race that stops a nation as an incredible experience.
Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace, took out the 162nd running of Australia's most famous race with jockey Mark Zahra aboard Gold Trip while stablemate High Emocean, with Warrnambool jockey Teo Nugent aboard, ran third.
"It's a dream come true to win the Melbourne Cup and to have the minor place-getter," Winslow-raised Maher told The Standard.
"It's just incredible, I think it's going to take a while for the win to sink in.
"I'm still pinching myself."
Maher said it was a remarkable journey from Warrnambool to the Australia's racing pinnacle.
"It's been a long journey since I was messing around with horses in Warrnambool and Winslow but those early years really helped my career," he said.
"It was a big thrill to have mum and dad (Eileen and John) plus my brother Declan on-course to celebrate the win."
Maher was thrilled with Gold Trip's performance in front of a bumper crowd at Flemington racecourse.
"Gold Trip has had an amazing couple of weeks, running third in the Caulfield Cup before being unplaced in the Cox Plate and now he's won Australia's great race," he said.
"It's amazing to think Gold Trip has backed up in the big three races.
"He's one tough horse. I've got to give a lot of credit to my farrier John Bunting - he's kept the horse in great order. The win is a great result for all our staff."
Maher, 42, said it was a great ride by Zahra.
"It opened up beautifully for Mark," he said.
"We had a plan going out. Mark was very good on him in the Caulfield Cup and we just wanted to wait, wait, wait and we knew he's got that good turn-of-foot and he was fantastic."
The Maher-Eustace training combination had five runners in the $8 million race.
Smokin' Romans ran seventh, Grand Promenade 14th and Interpretation failed to finish.
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