Maher and Eustace set up Sydney base

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace are to make their Sydney dalliance a permanent affair with the Caulfield trainers to set up a base at Warwick Farm.

Annabel Neasham, who has worked with Maher in a racing and owner management role in Melbourne for two years, will oversee the operation in Sydney. as assistant trainer.

After having just three winners in Sydney over the previous five seasons Maher, who started his partnership with Eustace at the start of 2018/19, has had six winners in New South Wales this season, including one at Group 3 level.

That was Dubious (Not A Single Doubt), who won the G3 Breeders' Plate in September and is one of the favourites ahead of Saturday's Magic Millions 2YO Classic at the Gold Coast.

Dubious was Maher and Eustace's first Group winner in Sydney this season

Maher and Eustace kept the colt in Sydney after his win on debut, as their affection for the Harbour City grew.

A week after that success, Big Blue (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) was victorious in the rich St Leger S. at Randwick on Everest Day, while Group 1 winning mare Aloisia (Azamour {Ire}) returned to form last month with a second in the G2 Villiers S. at Randwick.

“Sydney is a young and dynamic city and we are a young and dynamic team." - Ciaron Maher

While 90 per cent of the stables' runners this season have competed in Victoria, the growth from 13 NSW runners last season to 30 already in 2018/19 was a sure sign of the growing affinity Maher and Eustace have with NSW racing, which has substantially boosted its prizemoney and has a more liberal policy regarding the use of ReguMate on mares.

Aloisia enjoyed a return to form for Maher and Eustace in Sydney

“Sydney is a young and dynamic city and we are a young and dynamic team,” Maher said in a statement. “Whilst maximising the opportunities for our horses is at the core of everything we do, we are very aware that ownership is an expensive business and that success is not guaranteed."

“We believe it is our responsibility that our owners get the very best communication and are given the maximum opportunity to enjoy the racing experience and we go out of our way to provide that."

Neasham gets her chance

Neasham, who famously won last year's Mongol Derby and worked for a variety of thoroughbred operations in England before coming to Australia to work for Gai Waterhouse and then Maher, will ensure Maher's successful systems from Victoria are rolled out at Warwick Farm.

"She is an outstanding horse woman and I have every faith she more than deserves her position as Assistant Trainer." - Ciaron Maher

“Annabel has been with me for over two years and has worked with me and my team on every aspect of the business," Maher said.

Annabel Neasham (right) competing in the Mongol Derby

“Over the past few months she has overseen our NSW runners who have performed so well, she is an outstanding horse woman and I have every faith she more than deserves her position as Assistant Trainer and will go from strength to strength.”

The rise continues

It continues the remarkable rise for Maher, who just over 11 years ago, claimed his first Group 1 with Tears I Cry's (Lacryma Cristi) blow-out win in the Emirates S.

He left his home town of Warrnambool in 2011 to set up a base at Caulfield and has since claimed a further nine Group 1 wins, including a G1 Caulfield Cup, two G1 VRC Oaks and a G1 The BMW.

Ciaron Maher has been busy inspecting yearlings this week on the Gold Coast

His career was put on hiatus at the start of last season when he was suspended for six months over an ownership scandal, but despite missing out on Group 1 wins with Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock) in the Coolmore Stud S. and Aloisia in the G1 Thousand Guineas, he has gone from strength to strength since his return in April.

He and Eustace have 63 wins so far this season at a strike rate of 20 per cent and at that rate, they should easily surpass Maher's previous best of 110 winners in a season, set back in 2016/17.