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Image: AAP
Ciaron Maher is not going to miss the opportunity to watch his first runner at the Cheltenham Festival in England

Despite the Melbourne and Sydney autumn carnivals being in full swing, trainer Ciaron Maher is not going to miss the opportunity to watch his first runner at the Cheltenham Festival in England.

Maher, a dual purpose-trainer who is in partnership with David Eustace, has Big Blue nominated for four races at the famous jumps racing festival that runs from March 10 to 13.

The winner of the 2018 St Leger at Randwick and a jumps race at Warrnambool last May, Big Blue was pulled up in a hurdle at Kempton in December.

He has since been unplaced in a race at Naas but crucially completed the course to earn a handicap rating making him eligible for Cheltenham.

Maher said he was favouring the Coral Cup on the second day of the Festival while Big Blue has also been entered for a race on day three and two on the final day.

“It’s one of the carnivals of the world, whether you love jumping or not and if we’re in I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Maher said.

“It will be a quick trip. I’d be over and back as we’ve got a bit on here so I probably couldn’t swing five days over there, but I might swing a couple.”

Maher said England’s wet weather had affected Big Blue’s preparation towards Cheltenham with the jumper missing a lead-up race at Newcastle.

But he hopes to further Big Blue’s preparation with a gallop at Newbury races on Saturday.

“We didn’t get any favours at the handicap and 140 is quite high I thought for what he has done,” Maher said.

“At least he’s got one now and if you had a set of flippers and a canoe you’d be more likely to win a race.

“It’s not quite the ideal preparation, but it’s not ideal for a lot over there at the moment.

“It’s a bit daunting. He’s had a few little hiccups over there, but I think we’ve got them ironed out now and he’s going the right way.”

 
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