Ciaron Maher is excited about the prospect of having his first Cox Plate runners and he believes both gallopers, Sir Dragonet and Grandslam, are in with great chances.
Maher said Sir Dragonet boasted world-class form, while Grandslam had the perfect three-year-old record to win and was not there to make up the numbers.
Last year Maher and co-trainer David Eustace were expecting to have their first runner in a Cox Plate with Humidor but the Moonee Valley Racing Club committee elected to omit him from the field.
“It’s exciting to have two runners in a Cox Plate and they are both really great chances,” Maher said.
“Sir Dragonet has obvious credentials. He has form around the best horses in the world.
“At his last start he finished second behind Magical. You can’t get any better than that.”
After that second in the Curragh Gold Cup in July, Sir Dragonet was sold by Coolmore Stud to an Australian syndicate headed by Ozzie Kheir.
Maher is happy with how Sir Dragonet has settled in at Werribee.
“He’s travelled well and he’s in good order. He’s got a super jockey on, Glen Boss, who knows how to win big races,” he said.
Boss has won the Cox Plate three times having been successful on Makybe Diva (2005), So You Think (2009) and Ocean Park (2012).
Maher said Sir Dragonet had worked at Moonee Valley twice this week and handled the track well each time.
He also feels Grandslam is in the race with a winning chance.
The colt’s connections paid a $200,000 late entry and acceptance fee for the race after he finished third in the Caulfield Guineas.
Maher compared Grandslam’s Guineas run favourably to the lead-up form of other three-year-olds who have competed in the Caulfield Guineas prior to winning the Cox Plate, namely Shamus Award and So You Think.
He also equated Grandslam’s ability to that of his older sister, multiple Group One winner Jameka, at the same stage of their careers.
“Grandslam has won one of six starts and Jameka won one of her first seven starts before she went to the next level,” Maher said.
“Grandslam was placed in the Caulfield Guineas and Jameka was placed in the Thousand Guineas.
“Jameka then went to Moonee Valley and won the Vase over 2040 metres. We’re trying to do the same thing but in a different race.
“Grandslam is improving all the time. He’ll run a big race and with his light weight we’ll push forward and it will be no surprise to see him lead.”