By Michael Manley
It was again jockey Steven Pateman and co-trainers Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace to the fore on a feature jumps day as they combined with four winners at Pakenham yesterday.
Pateman, Maher and Eustace won a Maiden Hurdle with Light Pillar, the Benchmark 120 Hurdle with Mawaany Machine, the Brendan Dreschler Hurdle with Norway and the Maiden Steeplechase with Big Blue.
Two lightly raced jumpers in Norway and the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Social Element also signified they were rising stars of jumps racing both taking out the respective feature races, the Brendan Dreschler Hurdle and the Mosstrooper Steeplechase in easy fashion.
Maher paid tribute to his brother Declan, who is in charge of their Ballarat stable and also of his jumping team, for yesterday's success.
“Declan is really passionate about his jumping. The whole team at Ballarat has done a special job,” Maher said.
Maher also said he loved training jumpers and he was very passionate about having them in his team.
“Jumps is what I kicked off with. It’s something I love doing,” Maher said.
Maher also paid homage to Pateman and his performance.
“He’s been the best for a long time and he makes the job look easy. His wife Jess has him screwed down and he’s the lightest he’s been for eight years. He’s really focused,” Maher said.
It was the breathtaking win by Norway who handled the step from winning a maiden hurdle by ten lengths at his jumps debut at Warrnambool to putting away a feature race, the Brendan Dreschler Hurdle, in similar fashion again winning by ten lengths.
After the victory Pateman assessed Norway's ability as “untapped.”
His trainer Ciaron Maher said Norway had improved considerably from his hurdle debut win and he hoped he would again in preparation for his next start which will be the $250,000 Grand National Hurdle (4200m) at Sandown Lakeside on Sunday, August 1.
“That was impressive. It’s like his maiden win really awakened him. He's thrived since,” Maher said.
Maher said he had only bought Norway recently and he thanked fellow trainer Peter Moody for doing a bit of jumping work with him.
“I think he can now pop into a National. If he pings out of it like he did from his maiden win into this then he’ll be a lightweight chance for sure,” he said.
Pateman said he was thrilled the Maher/Eustace stable targeted the Brendan Dreschler Hurdle with Norway rather than take on a restricted event.
“What a team they are Dave, Ciaron and his brother Declan,” Pateman said.
Another significant win for the stable was Big Blue in the Maiden Steeplechase after a trip to the United Kingdom to contest a hurdle race at the Cheltenham jumps festival in March last year.
“It was great to get him back," Maher said.
Maher said they would target Big Blue towards the Warrnambool jumps carnival next year but before then he was likely to contest the Crisp Steeplechase and the Grand National Steeplechase.
The other feature race, the Mosstrooper Steeplechase, was won by the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Social Element who made it three wins from three runs over the fences, all in this campaign.
Social Element won by nine lengths took his record over the jumps to four wins and a second from five jumps starts.
His jockey Tommy Ryan said Social Element had gone from a novice to a true professional over the fences in three starts.
Ryan said Social Element would be a big player in a race such as the Grand National Steeplechase.
“The further the better for him as well,” Ryan said.
The other winners on the day were in the maiden hurdles.
The opening event was taken out by White Heath, for veteran jumps trainer Tony Rosolini and he was ridden by Lee Horner.
The other race was taken out by Devon Miss who is trained by Belinda Simpson and was ridden by second season rider Chris McCarthy.