Third Group 1 for Gai and Al Maher

The formidable team of Al Maher and champion trainer Gai Waterhouse was responsible for another top-flight victory when Almalad showed tremendous resolve to land the Group 1 J J Atkins Stakes (1600m) at Eagle Farm.

The lightly raced son of Emirates Park stallion Al Maher went into the Queensland assignment unbeaten after two impressive outings over 1000m and 1200m.

Despite stepping up 400 metres in distance from his previous outing and racing very keenly during the opening stages, Almalad simply saw out the assignment much stronger than any of his rivals. Camped outside the leader until the final stanza, the juvenile son of Al Maher looked to be headed by his main rival Brazen Beau half-way down the straight before fighting back to claim victory by a long neck.

“I probably didn’t give him the best of rides,” Tommy Berry confessed.  “He came out of the gates quite well and I probably should have taken him straight to the front.  But he was just a class above these.”

Waterhouse stable spokesman Mark Newnham said Gai was just happy for Tom to put him forward and get comfortable.  “It took him a while and he didn’t take the home corner very well, but the result is what counts,” Newnham explained.  “When you really put the acid [test] to him he will respond, and that’s what we got today.”

Almalad became the third individual Group 1 winner sired by Al Maher following Fat Al and Diamond Drille.  All three have been trained by Gai.  The unbeaten youngster was bred by Emirates Park and consigned by the stud at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale where he fetched $50,000.