Three-pronged Monash assault

Ciaron Maher is on the verge of breaking a record he set with former co-trainer David Eustace for the number of winners prepared in a season. After the win of Fabrice at Sandown on Wednesday, the master horseman has prepared 103 metropolitan winners in Melbourne for the 2023-24 season. 

Success in Sydney on Wednesday also saw Maher push through the $50 million in prizemoney for the season, narrowly behind Chris Waller who achieved the feat a couple of weeks earlier. 

Maher has a host of runners at Caulfield on Saturday as he looks to go past the 104 city winners he and Eustace prepared in Melbourne during the 2021-22 season. 

And Maher will be looking to add another trophy to the ever-bulging cabinet when the stable saddles Recommendation, Senegalia and Mrs Chrissie in the Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on Saturday. 

Recommendation (fence) is the proven stakes performer of Maher's trio; picture

Assistant-trainer Jack Turnbull said the three sprinters enter Saturday's race in excellent shape, although there are slight reservations with the ground, rated in the Soft range on Thursday, with Recommendation, while Senegalia is on the quick back-up after running at Flemington last week. 

"Recommendation had a short breather after his last preparation and we could have given him a second jump-out on Monday," Turnbull said. "But given his handicap rating and the strength of the race and the surface he'll be running on, we thought it was worth putting him in and seeing how he goes. 

"He should run quite well, although the ground will be interesting. He's a better faster ground horse, but the depth [of the race] isn't huge." 

Mrs Chrissie and Senegalia are looking to add black-type to their pedigree pages ahead of any thoughts of retirement to stud. Turnbull said the small field for a race that carries black-type status was an enticing proposition. 

"Mrs Chrissie is in really good form and black-type is the key there," Turnbull said. "If she runs top three, it's a big tick for breeding for her owners. 

"She races better fresh, so the backing-up aspect is the query, but she's deep into her preparation and very fit and the trip and track are a tick. 

"Senegalia is similar and with the depth of the race, we thought it would be worth backing up. She's probably not a horse to back-up, but it's a black-type race and Col [McKenna] has bred the family and if she was to put her hand up, it would be a good result for him. 

"For any mare, black-type is the end game, and if we can get a result with any of our three runners, it would be good." 

Turnbull said Recommendation was the class horse of the stable's three runners, while Mrs Chrissie had the form on the board this campaign. 

"They're hard to split, all three of them, but if Recommendation, he's a race day horse, turns up, he's the better galloper," Turnbull said. "He's run some really good races in his time, but it's generally on firmer footing."