Caulfield trainer Ciaron Maher is hoping Mr O’Ceirin can wrap up the Queensland Winter Carnival with a win in the Listed $175,000 Ross Maclean Fellowship Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
Even though Mr O’Ceirin hasn’t collected a winner’s cheque while in Queensland yet, Maher has been pleased with the efforts of the six year olds stayer but would still love to go back home to Victoria with a winning trophy in his kit bag.
“We really targeted the Queensland Carnival with him and he’s run well in all of his target races,” Maher told RSN.
“He’s been able to pick up a couple of seconds but it would be nice to round out his campaign up there with a win if we could.”
At his first Queensland start Mr O’Ceirin ran second on a heavy track to Streama in the Group 2 $358,000 Wimmers Soft Drinks A. D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on May 3.
At his next run the six year old finished seventh to Streama again on a dead 4 in the Group 1 $500,000 Titan Energy Services Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben on May 17 before running second to Moriarty on a good surface in the Group 2 $250,000 Merlo Coffee Eagle Farm Cup (2200m) at Eagle Farm on May 31.
Mr O’Ceirin will be dropping dramatically in grade in the Caloundra Cup after a fifth to Floria in the Group 2 $300,000 Croser Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 and Maher has reported that the tough stayer has progressed satisfactorily since.
“The leader elected to take him on fairly early and it ended up bringing about both of their undoing,” Maher said.
“I thought he did a super job under the circumstances to tough the race out and he actually held on for fourth before ending up fifth on protest.”
“He’ll roll along up on the speed and hopefully they get a shower of rain which will help him.”
“He had a gallop on Tuesday at Doomben with his regular rider who thought it was his best work since he’s been up there.”
Maher is also hoping for a little bit of rain to help keep the track soft which would enhance the chances of Mr O’Ceirin who has a fifty per cent winning record on a slow or heavy track plus six wins on a dead surface.
“Apparently, the track is the softest in the state and as I have said several times O’Ceirin is up with the top liners in the wet but probably a length off them on dry tracks,” Maher said.
Top Brisbane jockey Glen Colless will be having his ride on the stayer and replaces Blake Shinn who will be riding at Rosehill in Sydney on Saturday.
Mr O’Ceirin is currently the clear cut $2.20 favourite for the Caloundra Cup with Ladbrokes.com.au ahead of last start Ipswich Cup winner Brave Ali and the Gerald Ryan trained Ironstein who share the second line of betting at $5.
Three year old Bring Back is the next in the market order at $11 ahead of last year’s winner Zennista and local mare Catalonia at $17.