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Image: Darren Winningham

The Ciaron Maher / David Eustace trained Away Game has always been a very good horse. She has only finished out of the first four twice in fourteen starts in a career which has brought her five wins and over $3.2 million in prize-money and she added that latest notch onto her belt at Eagle Farm where she stormed home right down the outside of the track to claim the Group 3 W J Healy Stakes over 1200m.

Kerrin McEvoy has been booked to ride the three-year-old but, when Covid protocols ruled the Sydney riders out of the Eagle Farm meeting, Stephanie Thornton got the late call-up and she rode daughter of Snitzel to perfection to claim her first Group race victory.

“Ciaron (Maher) gave me my first Metropolitan winner on a Saturday back in Melbourne and now he has given me my first Group winner. It was nice to get my first Group winner for him … maybe that late call was a bit of an omen,” said Thornton.

It made a nice change from two weeks ago where Thornton was waiting on a call that never came. On that occasion Thornton had been booked to ride the Maher / Eustace trained Amish Boy in the Group 1 Stradbroke, but the highly thought of chestnut needed a horse to be scratched to make the final line-up and that did not happen.

“Today, Ciaron wanted me to be neutral on Away Game and ride her to have a turn of foot,” continued Thornton. “I was a pair further back than I thought I would be, but she is very quick on her feet and she was able to make up a lot of ground.

“The way the had been playing it was a good idea to get out wider, so I was never concerned about going out there.”

Ciaron Maher was very happy with the win which was, in spite of Away Game’s impressive record, her first win in nearly fifteen months.

“The team have done a really good job with her,” said Maher. “She spent a lot of time early this prep at our beach facility just to get her feet right because there was probably a drop in her form at the end of her last preparation.

“She is a really good horse and that was a really good ride by Steph Thornton.

“Kerrin McEvoy actually said last start when we pressed forward that it was her undoing a little bit so, with that bit of knowledge, we were confident to ride her a little bit quieter and wait for that turn of foot and Steph got it pretty much spot on.”

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