STAR jumper Saunter Boy will be saved for set-weights-and-penalty races after his unplaced run in the $150,000 Australian Hurdle at Sandown last Sunday.
Saunter Boy had to lump 73kg in Sunday's open handicap hurdle over 3900 metres on a heavy track. The 10-year-old, who has won 11 of his 16 jumps starts finished just under 10 lengths behind emerging jumping star Circle The Sun.
Declan Maher, who oversees all the jumpers in his brother Ciaron's stable, said the conditions never helped Saunter Boy on Sunday.
"It was just too big of a task for Saunter Boy," he said.
"Saunter Boy put in a couple of sticky jumpers which is not his style. The heavy track never helped his hopes. It was a sort of gluey surface.
"He seemed to struggle to get his legs out of the ground. The Australian Hurdle was an open handicap for jumpers. We'll now save Saunter Boy for the Drechsler Hurdle at Pakenham on July 16.
"The Drechsler is a set-weights and penalties race which will suit Saunter Boy a lot better than an open handicap hurdle."
Maher said Rockstar Ronnie who gave the master trainer his seventh Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase earlier this month will be set for jumps features later in the year.
"Rockstar Ronnie had a few days off after his Annual win," he said.
"Rockstar Ronnie pulled up well following the Annual. I think we'll look at races like the Crisp and Grand National Steeplechase for Rockstar Ronnie. Stern Idol who was unplaced in Annual could be aimed at the Mosstrooper and Crisp steeplechases."
Stern Idol, who was a short-priced favourite failed to finish the course in the Grand Annual.
Veteran jumps trainer Eric Musgrove played down the impressive win by his first season jumper Circle The Sun in Sunday's $150,000 Australian Hurdle at Sandown.
Circle The Sun ridden by young jumps jockey Campbell Rawiller beat San Remo by six lengths to take out the feature over 3900 metres. Star jumper Saunter Boy, who had to lump 73kg ran fourth.
Musgrove said Circle The Sun has done nothing wrong in his three hurdle starts.
"It was a good win by Circle The Sun," he said.
"From his three hurdle runs he's won them all. Circle The Sun has just improved after his three jumps starts. He started off with a good win in a maiden hurdle at Pakenham to his win at Warrnambool in restricted company and now he's won an open hurdle. It's a pretty good effort.
"We're not going to get too carried away at this stage but Circle The Sun is going well.
"Saunter Boy had to carry a big weight and appeared to have put in a couple of sticky jumps which never helped his chances. It's great to see Campbell is riding so well in his first jumps season. He looks to have a very promising career in front of him."
Musgrove has now won the Australian Hurdle on four occasions. His other winners in the prestigious race are Our Aristocrat (2011), Karasi (2004) and Blue Star (2002). Rawiller was fined $3000 for a whip indiscretion following his winning ride on Circle The Sun in the Australian Hurdle.
Aaron Purcell puts the improved form of his imported galloper Pythagoras down to a change in his training routine. Pythagoras ran third in a $55,000 restricted race over 1400 metres at Sandown on Sunday after wins at Stawell and Warrnambool.
"I was training Pythagoras as a stayer and then I switched his training around and he's improved," the Warrnambool-based trainer said. "We worked it out he's a middle-distance horse. He's just thrived since we changed his training around. He's racing in great heart and should be competitive in similar types of races in the future."
Imported jumper Crosshill is back in work for Purcell following his third-placing behind Rockstar Ronnie in the Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase.
"We gave Crosshill two weeks in the paddock after the Annual," he said. "I thought it was a great run by him in the Annual. He just needed that short break in the paddock to freshen him up. We may give Crosshill a couple of flat runs or a hurdle trial before setting the horse for the National Hurdle and National Steeplechase later in the season."
Crosshill picked up $36,000 in stake-money for his third placing in the Grand Annual.
New Zealand-bred galloper Sacred Palace is on track to run in the $150,000 Golden Topaz Stakes at Swan Hill for Warrnambool trainer Lindsey Smith on June 9
Sacred Palace was unplaced in a $150,000 race at Flemington on Saturday.
"We've had the Golden Topaz on the agenda for Sacred Palace for a few months," Smith said. "It looks the obvious race for Sacred Palace. It's not an easy race to win but I think the horse should run well."
Smith is no stranger to winning the Golden Topaz. He won the race in 2022 with Triple Missile.
The astute trainer scratched Bold Bourbon from a $130,000 restricted race at Flemington last Saturday.
"We decided to let Bold Bourbon have a week to get over his prior runs," Smith said. "He's racing in great form winning this last three at Terang, Warrnambool and Casterton. The form around him is strong."
From his 14 starts Bold Bourbon has won five starts.
Talented jockey Jarrod Fry will spend 10 meetings on the sidelines after pleading guilty to a careless riding charge following his ride on Sir Juggernaut at Bendigo. The charge related to an incident passing the 200 metre mark when stewards found Fry permitted Sir Juggernaut to shift out. His suspension started at midnight on May 20 and ends midnight May 28. Stewards deemed the incident to be in the mid-range before handing down its penalty. Jockey Joe Bowditch was suspended for eight meetings following a whip infringement on Knentii at Bendigo. Bowditch's time on the sidelines commenced at midnight on May 20 and ends midnight May 26.
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