By Bren O'Brien
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace are having their faith in Dundeel's (NZ) first crop vindicated with The Closer's win in a the VOBIS Gold Eureka Stockade at Ballarat on Saturday the latest success for the training partnership.
Maher bought two of the Arrowfield stallion's first crop in the 2017 sales season, paying $130,000 for the promising Global Exchange at Karaka, as well as $70,000 for The Closer at the Melbourne Premier Sale in partnership with Wes Ballantine.
The Closer took her record to two wins from three starts with a dominant performance in the $150,000 race at Ballarat, sitting behind the leader before powering clear in the straight.
Global Exchange, a Pakenham maiden winner, ran fifth when favourite behind subsequent G1 Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut (Domesday) at Caulfield in September at his most recent start and is now in the paddock readying for the autumn.
As well as that pair, Maher and Eustace have also had Deelbraka to the track, a $250,000 Karaka buy for Astute Bloodstock, who has had a second and fourth from two starts.
"We've won three races and the other one has been placed and we think he's going to be a very good sire for us." - David Eustace
"We've had a lot of success with them (the Dundeels). We've won three races and the other one has been placed and we think he's going to be a very good sire for us," Eustace told RSN on Sunday.
"His stats are very good and they will continue to improve as his progeny head to stakes class."
The Closer was stepping to 1400m for the first time on Saturday, having been beaten less than three lengths when 13th in the G3 Red Roses on Oaks Day at Flemington.
"She was very good at Flemington. We thought it was a better run than it looked on face value, because we knew she wasn't an 1100m filly," Eustace said of her first-up run.
"It was well short of her best distance and it was full of merit for her to just stay in the race."
Showing signs of versatility
But the turn of foot that filly showed over 1400m on Saturday is an indication that while maturity will be an asset for the progeny of Dundeel, they may prove more versatile in terms of distance than would have been expected.
Certainly that's what The Closer's trainers are thinking after Saturday's success.
"She's stakes class for sure, she probably showed that." - David Eustace
Eustace said having been given two runs at her second campaign, she would now be spelled with a view to stakes races in the autumn, with the Queensland Winter carnival a likely target.
"She's stakes class for sure, she probably showed that." Eustace said.
"Really from the day she won her first start at Geelong we always thought we had something pretty smart because she wasn't really ready and fairly undercooked."
"We'll pop her away, have three weeks off and look towards the autumn. The owners are breeders and it will be all about getting a stakes-race for her and no doubt she can."
As it stands, Irukandji became Dundeel's first stakes-winner as a 2-year-old, with Dealmaker twice stakes-placed. That tally is expected to change over the coming six months as his first crop hit the second half of their 3-year-old season.
Cutadeel added to Dundeel's successful weekend winning a BM 65 over 1600m on Sunday at Te Rapa for Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman. It was his second win from four starts.