Ciaron Maher’s flying Irish import Marksmanship could be set for a Bendigo Cup run this spring after defending their undefeated status for their new trainer with a Banjo Paterson Series Final 2014 win at Flemington over the weekend.
The Galileo stallion is a castoff from the Lloyd Williams-owned team, the former Robert Smerdon-trained six-year-old having been transferred to Maher’s Caulfield stables earlier this winter.
They’ve progressed well since joining their new trainer too now with a trio of wins from as many starts.
First was over the Cranbourne mile before a 2000m effort over Gotta Take Care in a Caulfield handicap at the start of the month.
Then on Saturday they stepped it up again for the $120,000 Banjo Paterson series Final (2600m) where they held on for a tight win as the equal $4.40 favourite after going out in front a length clear at the top of the straight before getting swamped late.
Ridden by Michelle Payne they had only a nose to spare over the Chris Waller-trained Sacred Flyer ($5.50) on the line before Leon Corsten’s former SA Derby winner Zabeelionaire ($21) added value to the trifecta a further long neck away in third.
Equal favourite Zuma Roc for Peter Moody was then first just over half a length off the winner.
Marksmanship handled the extra metres of Saturday’s 2600m final well and is being earmarked for a possible run in the $250,000 Listed Bendigo Cup (2400m) in late October this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“He pricked his ears coming out of the barriers and he got into a really nice rhythm,” Payne said.
“The way he quickened up at the 600, I didn’t ask him but he just felt the other horses coming up to him, so I was just happy to let him go through his gears and he was great to the line.
“I know the other horse got close but it was more him wanting to lay out quite badly so I was just trying to make sure I kept him straight.
“I think he’s still got improvement in him and Ciaron Maher has done a great job so far.”
The Banjo Paterson Final was made into a true staying test by Payne and Maher was happy with how they handled the distance and pressure.
“He’s definitely a true stayer so that’s why we wanted to roll along and make it a genuine a staying test,” Maher told Racing Victoria on Saturday.
“Everything has gone to plan. The team has done a good job with him in a short time and Michelle rode him perfectly today.
“We’ll just keep raising the bar. He might get to a race like the Bendigo Cup or something like that.”
They’ve already recouped their $120,000 purchase price for connections who snapped them up at the recent Inglis Melbourne Select Racehorse Sale and so anything on top of their $130,500 in prize money off their past three wins is now icing on the cake.
“It’s great to be able to buy these readymade quality horses, they (Team Williams) always sell some nice horses that still have some good wins in them like this horse,” Maher added.
Maher enjoyed a feature double at Flemington on Saturday too also saddling-up Akavoroun for their win in the $150,000 Listed VRC Winter Championship Series Final (1600m) who was also ridden by Payne and who is also spring carnival bound.
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2014 Banjo Paterson Series Final Results
Flemington Race 3 – 12/07/2014
|1||7||MARKSMANSHIP (IRE)||Ciaron Maher||Ms Michelle Payne||–||2||54.5kg||$4.40EF|
|2||4||SACRED FLYER (NZ)||Chris Waller||Chris Symons||0.1L||9||55.5kg||$5.50|
|3||5||ZABEELIONAIRE (NZ)||Leon Corstens||Michael Walker||0.3L||3||55.5kg||$21|
|4||8||ZUMA ROC||Peter G Moody||Dwayne Dunn||0.6L||6||54.5kg||$4.40EF|
|5||6||MULAQEN (GB)||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||3.85L||12||55kg||$5|
|6||11||KING OF DUDES (GB)||Aaron Purcell||Ben Melham||5.85L||7||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$19|
|7||3||CRAFTY CRUISER||Bryce Stanaway||Jye McNeil (a)||8.1L||4||55.5kg||$10|
|8||2||VOILA ICI (IRE)||Saab Hasan||Damian Lane||9.1L||11||57.5kg||$10|
|9||1||PERMIT (GB)||Chris Waller||James Winks||14.1L||5||60kg||$16|
|10||13||FABRIANO||Peter Donnelly||Luke Nolen||24.1L||8||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$81|
|11||15||WET WEAPON||Michael Trotter||Brian Higgins||24.85L||10||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$401|
|12||14||SPARTON||Keith Horobin||Darren Gauci||39.85L||1||54kg||$201|
|–||9||PICTURE EDITOR (GB)||Michael Moroney||Glen Boss||–||0||–||–|
|–||10||ROWLAND||Robbie Laing||Dean Holland||–||0||–||–|
|–||12||GET OUT OF TOWN||Dane Smith||Dean Yendall||–||0||–||–|