Trainer Ciaron Maher played a starring role on Finals Day at Flemington last year and he is upbeat about the chances of preparing another winner of a winter feature this time around.
Maher prepared Akavoroun to win the $150,000 Listed Winter Championship Final at the corresponding meeting last year while stayer Marksmanship also took out the $120,000 Banjo Paterson Series Final on the same program.
Maher will not prepare a winning double at this season’s meeting but his only runner on Saturday’s Flemington program, Hard Romp, is equal favourite to win the $150,000 Listed All Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m).
Hard Romp has two wins and two placings from four starts, all at Flemington, this campaign on good tracks but Maher is convinced the sprinter is even better when he gets on rain-affected going which he is hoping he can get on Saturday.
“He likes the straight and a bit of rain about would suit him,” Maher said.
“I can’t fault him. His form has been very solid and consistent, and the wetter the better for him.”
Flemington was rated a soft (5) on Thursday.
There are showers forecast in Melbourne later this week.
Hard Romp began his campaign with a narrow win, carrying a light weight, over subsequent Group Two winner Ball Of Muscle in an open handicap in April.
That victory confirmed the All Victorian Sprint Series Final as the gelding’s winter target.
Hard Romp was a convincing winner of a heat in the series on June 13 then was beaten less than a length behind Lonrockstar in third last start.
“I think he’s done really well since,” Maher said.
“He’s had a little freshen up and (apprentice) Mick (Dee) knows him well, so I’m sure he’ll be thereabouts again.”
Hard Romp and Lonrockstar are joint favourites at $5.50 with TAB fixed odds ahead of Decircles at $7 and Nadeem Lass at $7.50.
Nearest To Pin, winner of the race last year, opened at $16 but is in to $8.
Article from justhorseracing.com.au