Maharba forced to tackle older horses in Bel Esprit Stakes at Caulfield

Training Grahame Begg has questioned the programming of three-year-old races which has forced Maharba to tackle a race against older horses at Caulfield.

Begg will saddle Maharba in the Listed Bel Esprit Stakes (1200m) on Saturday, but said it was not the ideal scenario for the three-year-old, a two-time winner from eight starts.

A former NSW galloper, Maharba won a Listed two-year-old race at his first start for Begg while in the spring as a three-year-old, Maharba won a 1200m set-weight and penalties affair at Moonee Valley last September.

Maharba returned from a summer break to finish fourth in the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 24.

Begg pointed out the only suitable race prior to that for Maharba to contest had been the Group 3 Manfred Stakes over the same course and distance in January.

He said in the coming weeks, the only race on the calendar that may suit Maharba was the Listed Sunlight Classic (1100m) at Flemington on March 30.

“He’s in good shape but the problem with him is the lack of races,” Begg said.

“There’s no suitable three-year-old races.

“He ran first-up at 1200 metres in the Zediatve and then the next race for him against his own age is the Sunlight Classic at 1100 metres, a month apart.

“It doesn’t make sense to bring him back in distance, and it’s almost saying to you to go to Sydney.

“If I had of run him in Manfred first-up, I would have had to wait a month for the Zeditave and then come back to 1100 metres.

That’s not ideal, so I’m forced to run him over 1200 metres against the older horses on Saturday.”

Begg said he was now thinking of again running Maharba against older horses at his next start after the Bel Esprit Stakes.

“I’m toying with the idea of running him in The Country Discovery (1200m) at Yarra Valley on Good Friday,” Begg said.

“It’s a $500,000, it’s on a track that suits an on-pacer, which he is, so it might be worth a look at.”

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