Two Cranbourne Cup 2023 hopes for leading stable

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace will attempt to keep the Cranbourne Cup on home soil when they saddle up Ascension and Charterhouse in the 1600m Listed race on Saturday.

Since the Cranbourne Cup was shortened to 1600m and transferred to after the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Cranbourne trainers have taken out the race.

Robbie Griffiths and Mathew de Kock won with King Magnus in the first staging of the ‘new’ Cup in 2021 while Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young won with Uncle Bryn last year.

Maher and Eustace are no strangers to Cranbourne Cup success having won with Dr Drill in 2019.

Ascension enters Saturday’s race in good form having won the Gold Nugget (1600m) at Ballarat in September before a last start third behind stablemate Junipal in the Seymour Cup (1600m) last month.

And assistant-trainer Jack Turnbull said any rain, forecast of between one and 10mm, on Saturday would be beneficial for Ascension.

“He has prepped up well. He had a gallop on Monday off the back of jumping out the Monday before that,” Turnbull said.

“If we do get a drop of rain, which is forecast, then he could acquit himself well.

“He’s in good form. He’s come out of that Ballarat victory well then ran well at Seymour and he seems to be holding that form.”

While more rain would be to Ascension’s liking, Turnbull said less was required for Charterhouse.

A UK-bred import, Charterhouse has raced only four times in Australia and is yet to open his account.

He was placed twice at Flemington during the winter and had two starts in tougher grade than Saturday’s contest early in the spring, including finishing the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield last month.

“He has been a bit frustrating,” Turnbull said.

“He raced down the straight over six (furlongs, 1200m) and ran well but disappointed in the Toorak.

“I think his pet distance is a mile and possibly slightly further, once he gets into a good racing campaign.

“He’s an import and he has been hard to get a line on, but he’s shown us plenty of talent, and if it maps well for him, then he’ll be there to run a good race.

“I don’t think class will be a problem, it will just be whether there is enough speed in the race for him to run home.”

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