Highly contrasting fortunes for the new faces of Victorian racing

The Age, News, 31/10/2016, picture by Justin McManus. Melbourne Cup Parade down Swanston st. Ciaron Maher trainer of Jemeka signing autographs. Photo: Justin McManus
The Age, News, 31/10/2016, picture by Justin McManus. Melbourne Cup Parade down Swanston st. Ciaron Maher trainer of Jemeka signing autographs. Photo: Justin McManus

With Darren Weir chasing another remarkable achievement today, the woolly topped Ciaron Maher faces the possibility of being a casualty to modern integrity.

Maher will appear before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board to answer charges about the ownership of horses, including the classy mare Azkadellia.

The allegations include "improper and or dishonourable action" in connection with racing, which he strongly denies.

Azkadellia won the 2016 Queen Of The Turf at Randwick, while more recently the trainer notched the Caulfield Cup last year with Jameka.

Peter Foster, tagged a serial conman, is mentioned as being involved with Azkadellia and Maher, who has ridden rodeo bulls, is set for a bumpy passage in the coming months.

Weir and Maher are the new faces of Victorian racing. But clipped short and hardly in the mane category of Maher, Weir is more bushie than city slicker.

A mass producer, Weir is amassing figures never seen on the Aussie turf before, prompting a recent letter by Jason Keegan, from Avalon Beach, NSW, to Winning Post.

"Obviously, Weir is a shrewd trainer but his weight of numbers and consequent conveyor belt of winners could be seen as unfair to rival trainers both small and large," he maintained.

"I am not sure of the arrangement in Hong Kong but think they have a more equitable distribution of 'cattle' that spreads the talent around. As it stands now Weir is so successful many owners jump ship to get onto the Weir express.

"In the AFL and other sporting competitions salary caps are installed to prevent one team dominating year in and year out. Why should one trainer have so many horses in his stable distorting the spread of talent and thus prizemoney?" So far this season, Weir has notched 361 winners from 2196 starters and promises to break rare ground with Black Heart Bart in the group1 Goodwood at Morphettville today.

Successful in the event last year, the former West Australian sprinter will be out to complete the double for the first time since Musket Belle (1911-12).

Weir also has strong chances with last-start winners in the Doomben Cup, another group1, with Articus, Star Exhibit, and Amelia's Star, all last-start winners that started with other trainers. Alas one of the pitfalls with present huge-number trainers is the wrong horse winning. Losing is lousy but being beaten by a seemingly unfancied stablemate is even more difficult to stomach.

Still it shows they are all at full throttle, a plus for the modern era. Black Heart Bart, a prime example of the Weir expertise, can win the Goodwood in my opinion but the trainer also has outsider Rageese engaged while Articus, a German import with untapped potential, is my pick in the Doomben Cup but Star Exhibit, in particular, could beat him. And Amelia's Star is on an upward spiral and has the services of John Allen, from Ireland, who has a remarkable record with Weir.

Allen has ridden 938 times for him since 2011 from 170 on the flat and jumps. He joined Weir as a track rider after a job with Maher didn't eventuate.

No doubt an official eye was always kept on racehorse owners being of good character but trainers, particularly in this era of syndication, can hardly get three references from potential clients.

Once upon a time if the owner was questionable the horse would have to be sold. Around 40 years back Lancashire Lad, raced by Eli Rose, had to go to auction. Rose ran an illegal casino in Sydney, possibly more of a recommendation than a black mark in those days. However, Rose had form in Manchester before coming here that triggered the Australian Jockey Club decision. Consider, too, the anecdote from a well-known Sydney trainer who was approached by a top vet to take problem horses being prepared at Warwick Farm for a client because the vet wanted them at Randwick to cut down on travel time.

"Everything was going well, the bloke paid the bills promptly, until I saw him on the front page of the Sun-Herald as 'Public Enemy Number One'," the trainer related.

"I immediately rang the vet and said what am I going to do? He replied: 'Be diplomatic dear boy'."

Play the exotics with Max Presnell


Rosehill Race 8 (7) Guard Of Honour

Doomben Race 7 (12) Articus

Morphettville Race 7 (1) Black Heart Bart

Doomben Race 8 (5) Ulmann

Rosehill quadrella

Race 6 (4) Broadside, (7) My Psychiatrist Race 7 (13) So Willy, (14) Encosta Line, (15) Timeless Prince Race 8 (7) Guard Of Honour, (12) Bonny O'Reilly, (15) Brigadoon Rise Race 9 (7) Knit'N'Purl, (9) Dagny, (16) Stiletto Vixen

Doomben quadrella

Race 5 (1) Brook Road, (5) Untamed Diamond

Race 6 (2) Kenedna, (3) Dawn Wall, (13) Blanco Cara

Race 7 (6) Star Exhibit, (12) Articus,(16) Amelie's Star

Race 8 (5) Ulmann, (8) Splurge

Best box trifecta

Morphettville Race 7 (1) Black Heart Bart, (6) Secret Agenda, (15) Kaepernick

Best quinella

Rosehill Race 7 (14) Encosta Line, (15) Timeless Prince

What the bookies say

Joel Caine (Sportsbet)

Best bet: Passage Of Time (Rosehill, race 2). Sat on a strong speed last time and was a sitting duck for the swoopers. Should like the step up in trip.

One to avoid: Caerless Choice (Rosehill, race 6). He has proved a bookies favourite at his past couple and hard to see him beating the older horses here.

Gerard Daffy (UBET)

Best bet: Broadside (Rosehill, race 6). He has wet track form and should relish the extra trip and drop in weight today.

One to avoid: Hay Now (Rosehill, race 4). Genuine country performer but will find herself up against some pretty highly credentialed city performers.

This story Highly contrasting fortunes for the new faces of Victorian racing first appeared on Brisbane Times.