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Ciaron Maher has high hopes for imported galloper Al Galayel after an impressive Australian debut win at Sandown.

The Irish-bred galloper took out Wednesday’s Clanbrooke Racing Handicap under Mark Zahra.

Sent off the a $5.50 chance, Al Galayel scored a half-length win from the $2.50 favourite Rat With Goldtooth, while Summer Glen ($4.80) was 4-1/2 lengths away third.

Maher considered kicking off Al Galayel’s Australian career at Flemington last Saturday but opted for the bigger Sandown track and the 1600m distance instead.

Al Galayel was bought after Maher saw the gelding at Newmarket last year when “cruising around” while serving a six-month suspension.

“I was at Newmarket and a bloodstock agent asked me if I wanted to look at some horses,” Maher said.

“As soon as a I saw him I thought he was a pretty impressive fella.

“He was only lightly raced and looked a big, scopey horse that is going to appreciate a bit more of a trip.

“He looks to have a bright future.”

Maher said he had no immediate plans for Al Galayel but thought the gelding could be a serious contender next autumn.

“He’s still lowly rated so we’ll kick him through the grades at this stage and maybe pick something out in the spring, but I think he might be more of an autumn horse,” he said.

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