Zipping Classic winner The Taj Mahal will be set for a rich 2018 Autumn Carnival campaign under new Macedon Lodge trainer Liam Howley.
Howley takes over from long time trainer Robert Hickmott but Macedon Lodge boss Lloyd Williams stated that he will be calling the shots for his huge racing operation outside of Melbourne.
“The blueprint emanates right here. I’m chairman and chief executive,” Williams told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio.
“I decide how the horses will work and how we will feed them and all those sorts of things and I have people up there who execute it. That is what happens.”
The Taj Mahal was the last winner for the Hickmott – Williams Team when he took out the Group 2 $300,000 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Sandown last Saturday and the Irish import will now chase Group 1 glory in the Autumn according to part owner Nick Williams.
“We were keen to run him today (Saturday) just to learn a bit more about him, it’s his first go at the mile-and-a-half and he’s done a good job,” Nick Williams said.
“He’s a colt with probably the best pedigree in the world so we’ve probably got to try to win some of these good mile-and-a-quarter races.
“I would’ve thought Australian Cups and Ranvets would be his go and maybe we’ll stretch him out to The BMW.”
The Group 1 $1.5m Australian Cup (2000m) will be run at Flemington on March 10 while the Group 1 $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) on March 24 and the Group 1 $1.5m The BMW (2400m) March 31 will be run at Rosehill.
The Taj Mahal is by champion Irish sire Galileo and was prepared by leading Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien for the start of his career and his first two runs in Australia that resulted in a tenth to Gailo Chop in the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 14 and a fourth to Tosen Stardom in the Group 1 $2m Emirates Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 11, the last day of the four day Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Melbourne jockey Ben Melham has been aboard The Taj Mahal for his last two starts and was very impressed with the way the four year old ran out the 2400m of The Zipping Classic.
“He can sustain a good, solid turn of foot for 1000m so what he lacks in class, he makes up for it with that,” Melham said.
“He was still strong a furlong after the post, he’s an incredible horse really.”