Maher Has Sights On First Blue Diamond Win

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Ciaron Maher is confident his bid to win the Blue Diamond Stakes can come to fruition when he saddles up his first runners in Victoria’s premier race for two-year-olds.

Maher boasts a Caulfield Cup and two VRC Oaks among his feature race wins as a trainer but he has never had a starter in the Group One Blue Diamond (1200m).

That is set to change as he has reigning favourite Loving Gaby and fellow stakes winning filly Bella Rosa on target for Saturday’s $1.5 million race at Caulfield.

Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace, had one of the leading contenders two years ago but Jukebox was scratched on race eve.

“This is a race I’ve been hoping to be successful in for a few years now so it’s great to have a couple of real contenders,” Maher said.

The imposing Loving Gaby stamped her claims when she stormed to a half-length win over Bella Rosa in the Group Three Chairman’s Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield just over two weeks ago on debut.

The two fillies are among a number of feature race nominations for the stable on Saturday’s program.

“I think Loving Gaby has got that X-factor about her,” Maher said.

“She’s got the strength and size and everything else to go with it, so she would be the one I’m most confident with.

“In a big field, if she gets back it may be interesting. But she will be hitting the line pretty hard when she opens up.”

Ahead of the declaration of the field and barrier draw on Tuesday, Loving Gaby was $4.40 favourite on Monday with Athiri at $5.50 and Brooklyn Hustle $7.50.

“Knowing her, she deserves to be right in the market,” Maher said.

“But I’ll leave it to the experts to work out the rest of the field.”

Bella Rosa, who has a win and a second from two starts, was $17.

“She makes her own luck and carried two kilos more than Loving Gaby last start,” Maher said.

“Loving Gaby went past her and she was trying to chase her back on the line.

“She’s been ultra-impressive as well and you know she will put herself forward in the race and be fighting it out really hard.

“She gets a little bit forgotten but she’s a pretty impressive horse.”

Maher said Loving Gaby had improved physically and mentally from her debut.

“Obviously she won pretty softly and she hasn’t missed a beat since,” he said.

“I think the 1200 metres should be more to her liking and hopefully she can break a bit cleaner and she might make it a little bit easier on herself.”

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