Saunter Boy goes back-to-back

Saunter Boy produced a dazzling display of jumping to win the Australian Hurdle at Sandown Lakeside on Sunday. 282255 Pictures: BRETT HOLBURT/RACING PHOTOS

By David Nagel

Cranbourne trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have continued their magnificent record in big-time jumps racing after Saunter Boy cantered to victory in the $150,000 Australian Hurdle at Sandown Lakeside on Sunday.

The Maher-Eustace team were cock-a-hoop after up-and-coming star Heberite won the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool earlier this month, and continued their winning form after Saunter Boy made it back-to-back victories in the Australian Hurdle.

Saunter Boy won last year’s edition of the race by 10 lengths, and almost repeated the dose perfectly – winning by nine this time around – after leading for the last lap of the 3900-metre journey.

The nine-year-old gelding carried 71 kilos on Sunday, a weight-carrying record for one of Australia’s biggest jumps-racing events.

Champion jockey Steve Pateman was in awe of the star jumper after claiming his fourth win in the race.

“He was unbelievable with that weight,” Pateman said post-race.

“He loves this track, but I was really worried about the weight today … but he jumped amazing.

“When I went to the front I thought – 71kg Ciaron will be p….off – but he got into a rhythm and that was the key to it.

“I steadied him a little bit to the last. That’s why I gave him a couple of hits with the stick but he didn’t need that, he was far too good.

“He’s easily one of the best I’ve ridden.

He’s getting easier to ride and jumping great, he’s in the right camp, keep him all together and he’s unreal.”

And Warrnambool trainer Symon Wilde – who dominated day-one at his home-track carnival earlier this month – kick-started the day in fine style after Britannicus claimed an all-the-way win in the $150,000 Ladbrokes Australian Steeplechase (3900m) at Sandown.

Britannicus was sent out a clear $2.30 favourite after running second to his stablemate Vanguard in a thrilling $175,000 Brierly Steeplechase (3450m) during the Warrnambool carnival.

Jockey Arron Lynch gave nothing else a chance, taking the lead early and dictating proceedings from the front of the field.

“He was a lot more relaxed today, I was able to bring him back to me and get an easy first half,” Lynch said after the six-length victory.

“From the top of the hill I was able to stretch them out and he was good after the last, he just motored home.”

Wilde was happy to see Britannicus get the choccies after the classic contest at Warrnambool in the Brierly.

“When I walked the track earlier, I knew this was going to be his sort of ground and he probably deserved a good feature win like this,” Wilde said after the win.

“He was desperately unlucky in the Brierly but he made amends today and was just too good for them. He’s just a terrific jumper, he really flies through the air.”

Racing next returns to Sandown on Wednesday 1 June.