Nervous Nellie heads to Flemington

The Ciaron Maher stable will rely on a ‘nervous Nellie’ as one of their two likely runners in a staying test at Flemington.

Maher has seven of the 27 runners entered in the 2500m handicap on Saturday, a heat of the Banjo Paterson Series which has a final at Flemington on July 6.

Assistant trainer Jack Turnbull said the stable was likely to rely on Lionel and Queen Takes King on Saturday with last start impressive winner Berkshire Breeze to be saved for the final with other entrants Wil John, Cadre De Nour and Alakahan all expected to have their next starts over jumps.

Lionel was described by Turnbull as a ‘nervous Nellie’ after he melted in the pre-race at Flemington last start when finishing last in the Listed Andrew Ramsden (2800m) at Flemington on May 18.

That was Lionel’s second Australian start after finishing a pleasing third in a 2000m handicap at Mornington in April

“He was very bad pre-race at Flemington,” Turnbull said.

“He melted, to the point where I think Flemington just got to him.

“Physically he’s there, but mentally, that’s his weak point.

“He’s been at Julien Welsh’s since then for a bit of therapy and he’s had a maintenance piece of work, being a jump-out.

“He doesn’t lack for fitness. He’s got a very good aerobic capacity, it’s just a matter of him getting it right, mentally, on the day.

“We go back to Flemington, and he gets a bit of a refresh, and it will be up to him how he behaves.”

Turnbull said Lionel would not have any additional gear as he already wears earmuffs pre-race.

While Lionel will not have any gear added on race day, Turnbull said the stable was considering adding blinkers to Queen Takes King.

The mare, having her third run for the preparation, closed off nicely behind Berkshire Breeze at Flemington on June 8.

“She was terrific. We might put her in some head gear staying at the 2500 metres,” Turnbull said.

“I was speaking to the owners and when she was at Lindsey Smith’s, they didn’t work, she would get a bit too keen.

“She is an older mare and is racing like she wants some headgear, but we’ll have to discuss that.”

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