Maher and Eustace celebrate career best season
It has been a fruitful season for the ever powerful stable of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, highlighted by the feats of star fillies Loving Gaby (I Am Invincible) and way Game (Snitzel), but it certainly hasn’t come by chance. In the last two seasons, the pair’s operation has doubled in size with the acquisition of Darren Weir’s Ballarat property, as well as opening a satellite stable at Warwick Farm in Sydney. It took a little while for Maher and Eustace to figure out how to manage the rapid growth of the business, but now that they have, the pair have their sights set on their first Victoria Training Premiership title.
“The year’s been very good,” Maher told ANZ Bloodstock News. “We went through a lot of change, the stable grew a lot through the addition of the Ballarat stable and it’s just been about consolidating. “Our two-year-olds have been fantastic, Loving Gaby and the rest of our three-year-olds have been very good and our jumpers have been fantastic as well. “So right across the board we’re very happy with that consistency and with the team across various locations all working really well together and getting the results.” In the last couple of seasons, the stable has put a lot of time and effort into targeting the rich juvenile races which started with spending big at the 2019 yearling sales. At last year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sales alone, Ciaron Maher Bloodstock themselves signed for 19 lots and teamed up with operations such as Aquis Farm and First Light Racing to purchase several other expensive yearlings.
Among those purchases were metropolitan winners Anders (Not A Single Doubt), who was bought for $670,000 in conjunction with Aquis Farm, Grand Slam (Myboycharlie), who cost $600,000 and is the brother to Maher’s dual Group 1 winner Jameka, Unstoppabelle (I Am Invincible), a $320,000 buy, and Amish Boy (Star Witness), a $300,000 purchase who took out the Magic Millions Adelaide 2YO Classic (1200m).
Throw in the feats of Away Game, Prague (Redoute’s Choice), and the fact they managed to get six runners into the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and four into the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), and the investment into precocious types at the yearling sales seems to have paid off. “We’re very happy with the two-year-olds,” Maher said. “They’ve been fantastic. “It has paid off (yearling sale purchases) with the year we’ve had with them (two-year-olds) and they’re now going to progress into three-year olds and they should have a good year. “We’ve stocked up again, we’ve got a similar amount of yearlings coming in. We bought 72 this year.
“That was the reason we got a stable in Sydney. One, because we wanted to get access to the better bred colts and fillies and two, just to be able to place our horses where suitable, so we’ll look to build on Sydney.” With bases at Caulfield, Ballarat and Sydney, plus the use of the beach in Balnarring and an expanding property at Pakenham, there’s not much left for Maher and Eustace to add to their set up although that hasn’t deterred their ambition to improve. “We’re pretty happy location-wise and facilities-wise, but you can always improve,” Maher said. “You never stop improving in terms of technology and the way you do things and all that, but we are very happy with what we’ve got and how we’re going.” Looking ahead, Maher still has his sights set on winning that elusive Golden Slipper but his goals don’t stop there. “We’ve got a lot of good Europeans and hopefully we can win a Melbourne Cup,” he said.
“That would be a goal obviously. “The Slipper, the last couple of years we’ve been fourth (Loving Gaby) and second (Away Game) so that’s still a big focus.” As we edge closer to the start of the new season, preparations for the spring have well and truly begun in the Maher and Eustace camp and they are set to be represented in a number of feature races.
Reigning Manikato Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and William Reid Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Loving Gaby is, unsurprisingly, on a path to the $14 million Everest (1200m), with a tilt at the $7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m) also on the cards. Away Game is being set for the Coolmore Stud Stakes (registered as Ascot Vale Stakes) (Gr 1, 1200m) with the possibility of trying to emulate her stablemate in the Manikato, while Prague is heading towards the Golden Rose Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m). Schweppervescence Handicap (Gr 3, 1400m) winner Holyfield (I Am Invincible) is likely to head to the Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m), and Sydney Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) scorer Etah James (Raise The Flag) is on track for the Metropolitan (Gr 1, 2400m) before hopefully gaining a berth in the Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m). With their investment in this year’s yearling sales series just as high as what it was in 2019, Maher and Eustace will also surely be featuring in the early season juvenile events, and who knows what other untapped stock they’ve got up their sleeve for the rest of the spring?