Ciaron Maher’s class mare Set Square will be out to improve on her third in the same race last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival when she takes on a class field in the 2016 Turnbull Stakes this season.
The rising five-year-old daughter of Reset ran third to Preferment in the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) defeated under a length in the Flemington feature held on the Sunday of the AFL Grand Final weekend.
Maher again has the Turnbull in mind for Set Square, this year’s edition running on October 2, who hasn’t raced since her fifth to French raider Gailo Chop on Victoria Derby Day last Melbourne Cup Carnival in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
Set Square has had just a dozen starts to date for three wins, two seconds and three thirds.
She is best known for her stellar three-year-old spring campaign in 2014 that saw her enjoy a trio of wins on the trot including the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m).
Despite a number of competitive runs she has failed to win a race since that Crown Oaks success, something her Caulfield-based trainer Maher hopes to change this campaign.
Maher has been impressed with Set Square’s recent work as she nears a return to the track after an extended break that saw her bypass the autumn carnival season.
Her latest gallop was on Tuesday morning at her home track alongside Maher’s 2015 Crown Oaks champion Jameka, which showed how much she’d grown over her spell.
“She was always a lighter-framed type of horse but I think having that autumn off has really strengthened her,” Maher told Racing Victoria.
“She’s really furnished and her action’s great and I’m very happy.
“She had the autumn off so she’s just that little bit behind a horse like (Jameka).”
First-up Maher plans to run Set Square in the $200,000 Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 13 followed by the Turnbull and possibly the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15.
“She was very good in the Turnbull last year so we’re going to target that race again,” he said.
“She might come through a race like the Naturalism as well with a view to heading towards the Caulfield Cup.”
The $150,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) runs on September 17 and offers a Caulfield Cup ballot exemption to the winner.
Set Square finished a disappointing 16th of 18 runners behind the since-retired Kiwi raider Mongolian Khan in last year’s Caulfield Cup as a $9 shot beaten 11 lengths.
Current all-in Caulfield Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au is led by Chris Waller’s reigning Cox Plate winning mare Winx ($15).
Set Square is listed as a $41 chance in the same futures Caulfield Cup odds; the last mare to win the mile and a half classic being Southern Speed (2011) who came off a Turnbull Stakes fourth.
The Turnbull Stakes has also produced other recent Caulfield Cup champions Viewed (7th in 2009), Descarado (14th in 2010) and Fawkner (3rd in 2013).
Elvstroem (2004) was the last horse to complete the Turnbull Stakes – Caulfield Cup double in a single season.
Jameka is also 2016 Caulfield Cup-bound this season and is a $21 chance in the latest pre-nomination markets.
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