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Koroit junior footy bench-warmer remembers his roots after training second group 1 winner

TRAINER Ciaron Maher took some time to dream about the future for his star filly Set Square after she defeated Thunder Lady and Golconda to score an impressive win in the group 1 $1 million Crown Oaks at Flemington yesterday.
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Jockey Hugh Bowman acknowledges his Crown Oaks victory on Set Square at Flemington yesterday. Picture: Getty Images

Maher, 33, told The Standard following the victory that Set Square would head to Sydney in the autumn for the $1 million Australian Oaks at Randwick on April 11 before being aimed at next year’s $6 million Melbourne Cup.

“Set Square has beaten all the clauses for the Melbourne Cup (by) winning the Oaks,” Maher said.

“She’s already in next year’s Melbourne Cup field. Her ability is virtually untapped. We’ll give her a freshen-up and get her ready for the autumn in Sydney before going to Melbourne in the spring.

“Don’t forget, it’s only her fourth race start. We’re going to look after her. She can only keep on improving. We’re a long way from getting to the bottom of her.

“She’s stoutly bred. She’ll will run out a solid two miles of the Melbourne Cup.”

The former Koroit junior premiership footballer said he wanted to get involved in racing from a young age.

“I was a pretty ordinary footballer at Koroit playing in the juniors. I reckon I played in two premiership sides but I was just a bench-warmer. I just fell in love with horses. The more I got involved with horses the more I loved it.

“I got a jumps jockey’s licence and booted home 29 winners plus one on the flat. I went overseas weighing 60kg when I was 19 years old and came back 73kg four weeks later so I knew my jockey career was over.”

Maher, who scored his second group 1 win with Set Square’s triumph, took time out to reflect on his career in Warrnambool as a budding trainer.

“We might be based at Caulfield but I’ll never forget that I got my start in Warrnambool. People like Shayne Fisher, Anne McGrath and Ian McLeod were wonderful in my formative years as a trainer and there were a lot of other people.

“My parents (John and Eileen) have been super supporters,” the former Emmanuel College student said.

“I’ve really got to thank Colin McKenna. He’s been the greatest backstop that anyone could wish to have.

“He advised me if I was going to make it as a trainer I had to move to Melbourne. His advice and support have been invaluable to me over the years that I have known him.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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