Ciaron Maher backs Away Game toughness

If it was any other mare, Ciaron Maher might be slightly concerned with Away Game’s preparation leading up to this Saturday’s Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm.

The iron mare will run in the $700,000 Group 1 just four days after being sold for $4 million at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

Her race record was well known by prospective buyers, but an obligation of sale includes being on-site for inspections and while she didn’t stay on the sales complex, she was travelled there daily from her stable and was paraded many times before being sent through the ring.

“She’s had a couple of hectic days at the sales, but she was only walking and she’s really well,” Maher, who trains with David Eustace, said.

“There’s not much she can’t handle really. She’s pretty adaptable, she’s been a pleasure to train and hopefully she can round out the fairytale and get that lucrative Group 1 on Saturday.”

Away Game, a $425,000 Magic Millions yearlings purchase, has been a beacon of resilience since finishing fourth in the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes on debut in November of her two-year-old season.

She had seven additional starts as a juvenile and won the Magic Millions 2YO Classic, was an unlucky fourth in the Blue Diamond, finished runner-up in the Golden Slipper, won the Group 2 Percy Sykes Stakes and ran fifth at weight-for-age in the Group 1 Sangster Stakes.

Away Game, who is from the Elusive Quality mare Elusive Wonder, defeated older horses in the Group 3 W.J. Healy Stakes at three and while she hasn’t won at four, she has placed in six of nine, including trips to the runner-up stall in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate and Sangster Stakes at her most recent outing.

Away Game is likely to start from the third-widest starting position in the Kingsford-Smith Cup, in which she will be ridden by John Allen, but her new owner is content with its Magic Millions buy no matter where she finishes.

“She’s drawn out but she’s a tough filly,” Yulong’s Sam Fairgray said.

“She’s already done enough. If she happened to pick up a Group 1 then that’s just a bonus.”

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