Maher Playing It Cool With Gaby’s Everest Ambition

By Ray Hickson

Trainer Ciaron Maher is treating the spring program of star mare Loving Gaby as though she’ll be able to front up and take a place he feels she’s worthy of in the $15m TAB Everest.

Trainer Ciaron Maher (Pic: Steve Hart)

At present racehorse movement is restricted between Victoria and New South Wales but Maher is confident that will be worked out in plenty of time for the four-year-old to stake her claim for a slot in Australia’s richest race.

Loving Gaby is on the $15 Everest line with TAB and Maher said he has fielded interest from slot holders to take one of the 12 prized places at Randwick on October 17.

To date only Nature Strip (TAB) and Classique Legend (owner Bon Ho) have been announced as contenders leaving 10 slots left to fill.

“I’d love to run her, I’d say the borders will be fine when the better races come up and hopefully the states are going in the right direction,’’ Maher said.

“We’ll work all that out, there’s a few guys (slot holders) that I’ve spoken to that seem very keen.

“She’s coming up well, she’s still a little bit away but she’s on track.’’

The two-time Group 1 winning mare completed an exhibition gallop at Sandown during the week and Maher, who trains with David Eustace, liked what he saw in the vision from the track.

He said the plan has always been to resume in Melbourne, most likely in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) in late September.

Loving Gaby has raced four times in Sydney for a fourth in he Golden Slipper, and Group 1 placings in the Sires’ Produce and Champagne Stakes behind Microphone and Castelvecchio respectively but she wasn’t at her best in the TJ Smith in April finishing second last behind Nature Strip.

“She only had the one run there in the autumn and obviously she didn’t run to form,’’ he said.

“She’s raced very well up here in the past and she is a quality horse, a more mature mare now.

“You’d think she would be thereabouts (in an Everest) on her best, she is a high quality horse and apart from her last start she is very honest.”

Being a four-year-old Loving Gaby is also in the mix for the $7.5m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on October 31.

Maher is currently completing quarantine in Sydney as he prepares to oversee the transition of the assistant trainer role at his Warwick Farm stable with Jack Bruce set to replace Annabel Neasham, who is soon to start training in her own right, after this weekend.

The stable has talented colt Holyfield resuming in the Group 3 $161,000 Quincy Seltzer Up & Coming Stakes (1300m) at Randwick and Maher warned he’s not as forward as stablemate Anders who blitzed the Rosebud field last Saturday.

Holyfield, $13 with TAB, has won three of his five starts, including the Group 3 Baillieu on a soft 7, and has been fitted with two trials ahead of his return.

“I think he will run well, it just depends on how the track comes up,’’ he said.

“He will be better for the run, I think he is not far off ready to go but if it is testing I think he handles it but will probably want the run.

“Anders raced a bit deeper last prep and only had a short turnaround so carried a lot of residual fitness, he’s a sharp horse and went on from where he left off.”

Anders is likely to contest the Group 2 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) in two weeks while Holyfield is likely on a Guineas mission later in the spring and is $51 in TAB’s Golden Rose market.