There was little surprise from John O’Shea when Maximal, at $31, flashed home for a narrowly beaten second in the Doomben Cup, aside from Zaaki not being the one horse ahead of him.
“He’s a really talented horse, he just hasn’t had any continuity because of what’s gone on this season,” O’Shea said.
“First time he got a decent surface, he reacted and ran really well.”
A three-quarter brother to the legendary Frankel, it’s no shock O’Shea had high hopes for Maximal in the autumn, almost all of which were dashed by Sydney’s big wet.
There was simply no point to running him on a Heavy track but, in Saturday’s Group 2 Q22 at Eagle Farm he’ll get another elusive firm surface.
“Ideally, his best trip is probably 10 furlongs (2000m) around Doomben on Good ground, but he’s still confident enough to react at Eagle Farm,” O’Shea said, buoyed by his last-start performance, the Doomben Cup that was run at Eagle Farm.
Maximal will jump from barrier 14 with just two outside him at the start and, like the Doomben Cup, he’ll look to position midfield.
“We’ll be taking our medicine early, dropping him in and hope he can get within striking distance because he has a great turn of speed,” O’Shea said.
Maximal has been in work all year but raced just three times because of the weather, with Saturday to be the fourth and final run of the preparation.
He’ll head to the paddock on Monday with lofty spring goals on, ideally, firm Victorian tracks.
“He’s got Victorian interests and the opportunity to hopefully qualify him for a Cox Plate would be nice because I think he would be well suited in a high-pressure race like that,” O’Shea said.
“When we bought him, (jockey) Ryan Moore said ‘Tight-turning tracks on Good ground’, so Moonee Valley.
“It was always a race that, when I bought him, I said we’ve got 12 months to season him and qualify him for a Cox Plate.
“What we’ll probably do is run him once and then run him in the Turnbull and see if he can qualify himself.”
Any Group 1 success, Cox Plate, Turnbull or otherwise, will make Maximal, with his Frankel bloodlines, a very valuable stallion.