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The Maher/Eustace operation hope Cellsabeel can develop into a Golden Slipper contender

A week after claiming an upset win in the Magic Millions Classic with Away Game, trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace will be keenly watching the return of a filly they hope can develop into a Golden Slipper contender.

Cellsabeel resumes in the Iron Jack Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday after an eye-catching debut fourth behind Dame Giselle in the Golden Gift last spring.

Her final 600 metre sectional was the quickest of the race, with her performance giving the stable heart the $400,000 yearling purchase might fulfil her destiny.

Annabel Neasham, who runs the Sydney branch of the Maher/Eustace operation, revealed Cellsabeel was selected for owner Sheikh bin Khalifa Al Maktoum specifically with the Slipper in mind.

“Tim Stakemire, who is Sheikh Khalifa’s racing manager, said to Ciaron at the Easter sale, ‘go and find us a horse you think you can win the Golden Slipper with’ and he chose her,” Neasham said.

“He thought she looked like a beautiful filly and she has been that way the whole way through.

“She is quite big and strong and lengthy and she’s doing everything right so far.”

A daughter of Hinchinbrook out of Group One winner Our Egyptian Raine, Cellsabeel has looked sharp in two recent barrier trials.

She sported blinkers in the second hit-out on the advice of jockey Tommy Berry and they will stay on come race day.

“He just felt in her first trial she had her ears pricked and never really got out of first gear so we put them on to ensure she knuckles down a bit more when she needs to,” Neasham said.

Cellsabeel will resume at Rosehill regardless of the conditions with the stable happy to test her wet track capabilities if the surface is rain-affected.

Rain and storms are forecast to continue in Sydney over the coming days and both Cellsabeel’s sire and dam were proficient in the wet.

Maher and Eustace are yet to map out a concrete autumn program for the filly but Neasham says all options are on the table, including the $2 million Inglis Millennium on February 8.

Sheikh Khalifa also owns stablemate Muntaseera, an impressive Sydney winner in November and second in a Rosehill barrier trial on Tuesday.

She is being aimed at the Blue Diamond Stakes in Melbourne and will resume in the southern capital early next month.

“I think Sheikh Khalifa is pretty lucky having both those two fillies in at the same time, ” Neasham said.

 
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