Caulfield horseman Ciaron Maher has confirmed plans to bypass The Run To The Rose in Sydney on Saturday and keep his promising three-year-old Brockhoff at home in Melbourne for the 2015 HDF McNeil Stakes this weekend.
An up-and-coming son of Lonhro, Maher’s colt comes off a two length win at Bairnsdale over 1000m from August 18 and makes his black-type debut on Memsie Stakes Day at his third career start.
The Bairnsdale win was a nice improvement on his disappointing debut in February at Sandown-Hillside when second-last, beaten over 12 lengths crossing eighth to Thurlow in the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (1000m).
“He’s always shown nice ability, hence why we kicked him off in the stakes race as a two-year-old,” Maher told AAP this week.
“But he pulled up shin sore after that.
“He was quite soft going into the maiden and he still had a look around when he got to the front.”
While the galloper also holds a nomination for the $175,000 Group 2 The Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens, where the Chris Waller-trained San Domenico Stakes winner Japonisme and Group 1 winning stablemate Press Statement dominate the entries, Brockhoff will instead race at Caulfield on the season’s opening Group 1 meeting.
He is one of 17 nominations for the $150,000 Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m) where the likes of the Peter Moody-trained Vain Stakes winner Gold Symphony, Caulfield Guineas fancy Ready For Victory and Godolphin’s well-tried gelding Demonstrate are among the headline entries.
Brockhoff meanwhile takes them on in his first stakes run after breaking his maiden status last time out.
How he handles the McNeil Stakes test will go a long way to determining the rest of his Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, Maher having nominated him for a host of upcoming majors.
The youngster is nominated for the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 10 as well as Australasia’s weight-for-age championship – the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) taking place at Moonee Valley on October 24.
In the pre-field Caulfield Guineas odds at Ladbrokes.com.au Brockhoff is a $51 outsider and he is a genuine roughie at $201 in futures Cox Plate betting for the ‘race where legends are made’.
Confident he has a nice three-year-old on his hands, Maher is also keeping his confidence in check regarding the horse’s hopes in those features until he sees how he runs this weekend.
Maher will also saddle-up his Crown Oaks winner Set Square at Caulfield this weekend.
The now four-year-old daughter of Reset hasn’t raced since her below par 11th to Fenway in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Flemington in late March.
She is best known for taking out last November’s Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m), but won’t kick off in elite level company.
Set Square is nominated for the $400,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) on Saturday, but Maher confirmed she would instead run in a mares-only handicap over 1400m as the hefty 61.5kg top weight.
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