Ciaron Maher has prepared the winners of the past two VRC Oaks but will be chasing his first Victoria Derby when he saddles up Beach Life at Flemington.
Maher has already won the $3 million Caulfield Cup with Jameka this spring and the mare heads to Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup as one of the leading chances.
But before then Beach Life, the winner of one of his six starts, will try to snare the main event on the opening day of the four-meeting Melbourne Cup carnival on Saturday – the $1.5 million Victoria Derby 2016 for three-year-olds.
Beach Life broke his maiden over 1500m at Mornington in September and at his most recent start in the Caulfield Classic (2000m) he stayed on well for fourth after making a wide run at the turn.
“He’s a horse we bought over in New Zealand at the ready to run sales and probably didn’t know he was going to end up a Derby horse,” Maher said.
“He’s probably bred to be a bit sharper.”
Importantly, though, Maher believes Beach Life has continued to improve heading into the Derby and believes the son of stakes winning sprinter Hinchinbrook can handle the distance rise to 2500m.
“He’s a big, trainable horse,” Maher said.
“I’ve upped his work into this race and he really seems to have responded at home. His breeding probably doesn’t suggest it but just the way he has trained on, I’m confident he can get it.”
Maher has won the Oaks for fillies at Flemington with Set Square and then Jameka.
Beach Life is at $15 for the Derby and will be partnered by Nick Hall who has ridden him once for his win at Mornington.
Hall and Maher combined to win the Caulfield Cup with Jameka and combine again with the star mare in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.