CIARON Maher thought his Group 1 winner Bon Aurum was “gone” after surgery to remove bone chips from his knees in late 2016, but “the tough old bugger” convinced the trainer otherwise as he heads towards his first run in almost 20 months.
Now Maher is hoping the five-year-old can recapture some of the form that saw him score a gutsy win in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield in 2016.
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Bon Aurum hasn’t raced since being unplaced in the Cantala Stakes two springs ago. He returns at Moonee Valley on Saturday over 1200m, with Maher excited to have him back at the track, yet mindful he might need a run or two to reach peak fitness.
“Yeah, I probably did,” Maher said when asked if he thought the son of Bon Hoffa’s career was over after the surgery. “But he has always been a tough old bugger.”
“I would say he would probably need the run (Saturday). He’s had a good few trials, with a couple on wet tracks, which he doesn’t really like, so it is hard to get a bit of a guide for him.
“Getting back to the track was the first step and now getting him back to the races. It is good to have him back in the stable and in good order.”
He is rated as a $14 chance after the scratching of Inn Keeper on Friday, with Maher saying he has some ideas on future planning with the horse, depending on how he goes.
“He won a handicap Group 1, so we will probably be looking for some similar type races for him,” Maher said. “It all depends on how he goes, but there is the John Monash Stakes (1100m on July 14) or the Bletchingly Stakes (1200m on July 28).”
Bon Aurum has won five of his 15 starts, reaping almost $600,000 in prizemoney.
Maher, who returned to racing only two months ago, has some of his spring hopefuls in work, and is loving being back at the helm after a six-month ban.
The well-bred Jukebox, who won the Vain Stakes last August before running second in the Blue Sapphire Stakes, could also be headed to the Monash or the Bletchingly, while Group 2 VRC Sires winner Not A Single Cent is also cranking towards full fitness.
Maher hasn’t give up hope of an unlikely racetrack return for his 2016 Caulfield Cup winner Jameka, who was recently sold for $2.6 million back to his senior part-owner Col McKenna.
Jameka is back in work and could have a trial within a month to determine whether she heads to the breeding barns or back to the track for another campaign.
“If I thought she was not far away from her best, I would say that he (McKenna) would definitely entertain the conversation (about a possible return),” Maher said.
He is also hopeful imported stayer Al Galayel, who won impressively at his first Australian start last Wednesday, can measure up against better opposition in the coming months.
Maher has a number of good chances at Moonee Valley today, including the in-form Lite’N In My Veins, Akavoroun, Pemberley and two nice two-year-old fillies in Blonde Choice and Sunrise Dancer.