Southport Tycoon is pipped by Veight in the Australia Stakes. (Image: Racing Photos)
Ciaron Maher might not have won either Friday's Manfred Stakes at Caulfield nor Saturday’s Group 2 Australia Stakes at The Valley, but the leading trainer could barely be more pleased with the results.
On Friday, his G1 winning juvenile King Colorado turned in a fabulous trial for March’s G1 Australian Guineas, with his fast-finishing run for second before stablemate Southport Tycoon ran a similar race for second 24 hours later at The Valley.
The performances of the pair of three-year-olds has furthered Maher’s hopes of a second Australian Guineas victory, while the trainer also has his sights set on the Randwick Guineas with his Caulfield Guineas winner Griff.
Maher said he went into the Australia Stakes thinking Southport Tycoon could upset the favourite Veight.
“I was very confident that he could win this race,’ Maher said.
“Recommendation, he’s probably the most consistent horse in the stable, but given the way the three-year-olds ran yesterday they gave me a lot of confidence today because he’s been working as well, if not better, than all of them.
"If he steps a fraction better, he definitely makes it interesting. He’s got a hell of a lot of upside. He’s still maturing.”
As for Griff, who hasn’t been seen since his tough, on-pace Caulfield Guineas win in October, Maher said he would campaign in Sydney this autumn, with the Randwick Guineas and possibly Doncaster Handicap as his goals.
“He’s come back well and furnished a bit,” Maher said of Griff, “He’s going to campaign in Sydney for the Guineas and we’ll see where that takes him.
“He’s very quick. I think his sectionals in the Rosebud behind Tiz Invincible over 1100 indicate that.
“Do you have to go any further? He’s a very straight forward, big horse. You could probably try (over further) but the Guineas will be his aim.”
Griff runs first-up in the G3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 10.