Final trip Away for Maher star?

Leading trainer preparing for his final start with one of his stable favourites

AWAY GAME.
AWAY GAME. Picture: Michael McInlally/Sportpix

Ciaron Maher has trained better horses than Away Game, but he hasn't trained many more resilient than the daughter of Snitzel.

So it will be with a heavy heart that Maher and co-trainer David Eustace saddle her up for potentially the last time in Saturday's $500,000 Group 1 Sangster Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville.

The four-year-old will be sold at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale later this month, so Maher is preparing for the fact her 23rd start could be her last for him.

But he is happy to keep her if the new owners want to race on.

"I would assume she would go to stud, but whoever buys her might want to run her again," Maher said.

"I'd hope they pick me to train her if they do, but it could well be her last run."

Away Game, who is out of the Elusive Quality mare Elusive Wonder, is one of the headline acts of a National Sale that also includes her Group 1-winning stablemate Lighthouse and four-time Group 1 winner Tofane.

The $425,000 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale purchase has rarely missed a major carnival since first stepping out in the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m) at Sandown in December 2018.

She won her next three starts, including the $2.5 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic, before finishing fourth in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes and second to Farnan in the G1 Golden Slipper.

That was followed by a win in the G2 Percy Sykes Stakes, while she had her final start as a juvenile in the 2020 edition of Saturday's race, in which she finished fifth.

She has only won one race since, the G3 W.J. Healy Stakes in Brisbane last June, but placed in a further nine of 14 starts, including the G1 Oakleigh Plate two starts ago.

"She's hardly missed a carnival anywhere, she races in spring, autumn and get to Queensland every year," Maher said.

"She's very genuine. For a horse to run second in a Slipper and win a Magic Millions and still be going is amazing.

"She's been a phenomenal horse to train really."

Away Game finished seventh in the Group 1 Galaxy last time out but has been freshened and Maher has deliberately kept her fresh for what could be a timely maiden Group 1 success.

"It's a little bit harder when you're managing them through a prep but I think she's going well," Maher said.

"I just gave her an easy gallop and have got her nice and fresh going in."

Away Game will be ridden by Linda Meech and jump from the inside barrier in the field of 15.


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